Taiwan pedals faster to meet global pandemic demand for bikes

first_imgTopics : “We saw what happened and then we reacted quickly,” Tu told AFP in an interview last week at their new headquarters in the industrial city of Taichung.”We mobilize our companies, including our factories and sales company… in order to meet the consumer demand.”The orders have kept on coming, with reports of empty bike racks at dealers and long waits for resupply across Europe and North America.In Britain, the Association of Cycle Traders said some 20,000 bikes awaiting manufacturing and delivery had already been sold or reserved. “We’ve seen a mixture of everybody to be honest,” Lincoln Romain, director of Brixton Cycles, in London, told AFP last month.”People that commute all the time, we’ve seen new cyclists, we’ve seen people that have to get in so they have bikes that have been in the shed a little while.” Deserted streets, cabin fever and worries over COVID-enabling commutes in Europe and America have sent demand for bikes into high gear — with factories in Taiwan racing to push out new units and scrambling to find parts.The deadly virus has sparked a global recession and hammered many industries, but it is boom time in the bike world and a major bonus for Taiwan, which is a leading bicycle producer and has managed to avoid mass lockdowns by defeating the coronavirus early on.At Giant, the world’s largest bike company, it has been a dizzying few months, according to CEO Bonnie Tu. center_img Waiting for suppliersAcross the Atlantic, demand has also rocketed. Year-on-year sales of commuter and fitness bikes increased 66 percent in March, leisure bikes leaped 121 percent and electric bikes rose 85 percent, according to market research firm The NPD Group.Giant’s Tu said demand in both the US and Europe has centered on the more affordable “$1,000 and under” category of bikes. While Giant’s factories in Taiwan kept rolling, many of their facilities on the Chinese mainland had to temporarily shut down when the virus first spread from the central city of Wuhan.A return to full capacity has been slowed by struggles to get parts from suppliers as they refill factory floors and restock inventories.”We have to wait for them,” Tu said. “So it is actually quite difficult, but we manage.”For Europe, Giant will soon benefit from a large factory it has built in Hungary, part of a gradual shift many Taiwanese manufacturers are making to diversify away from China and be closer to consumer markets.Gina Chang, secretary-general of the Taiwan Bicycle Association, said manufacturers initially suffered in the first quarter from cancelled or postponed orders when the virus first spread. But since then, demand has roared back.”We are seeing rush orders or even panic buying,” she told AFP. “Taiwan’s top two bike makers have orders lined up till the end of this year.” Taiwanese renaissanceThe coronavirus boom is the latest chapter in a renaissance for Taiwan’s bike industry.The self-ruled island had for years been the world’s number-one bike producer until the 1990s, when mainland China’s economic reforms saw firms — including many Taiwanese manufacturers — take advantage of a vast, cheap labor force.But while Chinese factories continue to play a dominant role in terms of sheer numbers, Taiwan production is bouncing back, especially when it comes to higher-quality models and in the rapidly growing electric bike market.Last year, Taiwan exported $1.36 billion in non-electric bicycles, down from $1.5 billion the year before.But electric bike production is soaring.In 2019, electric bike exports totaled $863 million, up from $377 million in 2018, with most heading to Europe.Export of electric bikes from January to April this year reached a record high of $301 million, up 23.6 percent from the same period last year. And the bikes made in Taiwanese factories tend to be higher quality models that fetch a higher price.Tu says she hopes the pandemic will help encourage people to adopt bikes as a form of transport long after the threat of the virus has receded, something many European governments are keen on. “While riding bicycles, you can have fresh air… you cannot be too close otherwise you will crash,” she laughed. “So it is natural social distancing.”last_img read more

BaFin warning on Pensionskassen was ‘wake-up call’ to sector

first_imgThe German regulator’s warning last year on the financial instability of Pensionskassen was “a wake-up call” to the sector, according to Götz Neumann, chairman of the board at the €2.5bn Pensionskasse for Wacker Chemie.Speaking at the Handelsblatt occupational pension fund conference in Berlin this month, Neumann described BaFin’s warning as tantamount to “a beneficial shock for some companies”.In May last year the regulator’s announcement that some of Germany’s 130 Pensionskassen were in poor financial health sent shock waves around the industry, with some accusing BaFin of scaremongering and causing uncertainty among pension savers.At the time, Frank Grund, head of the BaFin department overseeing Pensionskassen, highlighted the major impact that low interest rates had on pension vehicles with guarantees, warning that “without additional capital some Pensionskassen will no longer be able to operate at full capacity”. Wacker Chemie’s Neumann said at the conference: “We had to react spontaneously that afternoon to explain the situation to our members. So for us it was more of an irritation as we have a strong sponsor company with which we are in continuous talks about the financial situation.”However, he added that not all of his peers were that lucky, and that some companies or other plan sponsors “who had known about the crisis but did not take action”. Götz Neumann of Wacker Chemie’s Pensionskasse addresses the 2019 Handelsblatt occupational pensions conference“Many smaller Pensionskassen were able to take the BaFin’s warning to their sponsors to put pressure on them,” he said.At the end of last year, BaFin took the unprecedented step of closing the Caritas Pensionskasse to new business because of solvency issues. It subsequently confirmed that 54 Pensionskassen were under “close watch”.Since then, this number has come down to around 30, with some still having to report quarterly to the supervisor. Neumann said this reduction in Pensionskassen at an immediate risk could be in part because of BaFin’s warning.Meanwhile, Neumann also criticised the regulator’s approach to limits on allocations to so-called risky assets or illiquid investments.“We know better than the BaFin how asset allocation works and we could increase our returns if we had more leeway,” he argued.Neumann added that, with a strong sponsor backing the asset allocation, some Pensionskassen should “be given the chance to earn money on the market rather than the company having to issue cash injections”.last_img read more

Shafer rules out Robinson for Villanova game; walk-ons Cleveland, Nassib, Tobias get scholarships

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on August 23, 2014 at 10:28 am Contact Jacob: jmklinge@syr.edu | @Jacob_Klinger_ Nick Robinson will miss Syracuse’s Aug. 29 opener against Villanova with a sprained foot, SU head coach Scott Shafer said at Saturday morning’s press conference.The Orange will keep the senior guard in a boot through next week and try to use the bye week to get him healthy in time for SU’s Sept. 13 game at Central Michigan, Shafer said.“At the beginning of the spring when they came out with all the adjustments to the schedule I was kind of like, ‘Really? One game and a bye?’” Shafer said. “But maybe it’s an opportunity to get some kids back for that Central Michigan game.”Walking into scholarshipsWalk-ons Clay Cleveland, Joe Nassib and Greg Tobias were all awarded scholarships, Shafer said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCleveland and Nassib are set to graduate in December, at which point the program will get those scholarships back, Shafer said. Tobias is set to finish school in May, he said. Cleveland and Nassib were awarded scholarships last year, too.“I’ll never let money sit around when there’s a young man that deserves it,” Shafer said.Their scholarship awards were first reported by the Post-Standard’s Stephen Bailey on Friday.2-deep by TuesdayShafer also said he wants the Orange’s depth chart solidified two-deep at every position on Tuesday.“Any time you have a tough decision because you like him and you like him, that’s a good thing,” he said. “We have a lot of those things going on. So it’ll be interesting to see how things kind of shore up these next couple of days.” Commentslast_img read more

ACC will send representative to Syracuse’s NCAA hearing, Swofford confirms

first_img Published on October 29, 2014 at 2:09 pm Contact Jesse: jcdoug01@syr.edu | @dougherty_jesse CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Atlantic Coast Conference will send a representative to Syracuse’s NCAA hearing this week, ACC commissioner John Swofford confirmed at media day in Charlotte, North Carolina on Wednesday.Syracuse officials are scheduled to appear at a hearing Thursday and Friday and SU head coach Jim Boeheim, Chancellor Kent Syverud and Director of Athletics Daryl Gross have been invited, among others, according to The Post-Standard.Swofford gave an opening statement before he was peppered with questions about the recent news out of North Carolina and Syracuse and briefly addressed the Syracuse situation.“The NCAA has asked us not to talk about ongoing investigations,” Swofford said. “Anytime one of our schools has a compliance issue, it’s a concern.”Swofford doesn’t believe that the recent reports on the Orange and Tar Heels are greatly cutting into the conference’s reputation, which he worked to establish in his opening statement, which lasted 20-plus minutes.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBefore being asked about North Carolina and Syracuse, Swofford rattled off ACC basketball statistics to back his point of calling the conference the best collection of programs in college basketball history. After listing off first-place finishes in attendance, TV ratings, all-time NCAA tournament wins and so on, Swofford was quick to identify an area that the conference doesn’t want to attract national attention in.Said Swofford: “We want to have the least number of compliance issues.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

The Final Word: Beat writers discuss Syracuse’s 93-85 loss to No. 5 North Carolina

first_img Published on February 27, 2019 at 1:22 am Comments AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Facebook Twitter Google+center_img CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Three days after then-No. 1 Duke handled Syracuse (18-10, 9-6 Atlantic Coast) in the Carrier Dome, the Orange were up three points to one of the hottest teams in the nation in No. 5 North Carolina (23-5, 13-2). Up 46-43, SU blew its slim halftime lead as Marek Dolezaj and Elijah Hughes fouled out near the conclusion of the game to end any hope of a comeback. Hughes scored 15 points — but was scoreless in the second half — and Syracuse was led by 29 points from Tyus Battle. UNC’s Coby White dropped 34 points on the Orange, including six 3-pointers.Here’s what our beat writers had to say about Syracuse’s loss.last_img