Figures Plunge 27% in Volume, 21% in Value in 1st Half; Drop of 20-30% Expected for Full Year
Plans for Expansion On Hold; Few Innovative Models Coming Out in 2017
For January through June of 2016, performance figures saw sharp decreases as a result of sluggish demand in Europe, the US and China, falling 27.3% year on year on a volume basis and 21.4% in monetary value. Looking back at first-half figures over the last five years, monetary value was down 1.9% in 2013 and 2.5% in 2014, minor slides compared to the double-digit plunge this year. The outlook for 2016 as a whole points to a 10% decrease at best, a drop of more than 20% if things proceed as they look now, and a plunge of 30% in a worst-case scenario.
Taiwan Makers’ Bike Shipments to China Down by 30 to 40% Across The Board ; Serious Reviews and Revamping of Their Heretofore Mainland China Policies
All-Out Global Downturn Hitting Europe, US, China Circumvents Any Signs of Recovery
Starting from the beginning of the year, each month has seen a successive slide in numbers compared to the same month a year ago, with volume falling nearly 30% and monetary value (sales) down around 20%. It seems as if the first half of the year vanished without leaving the slightest sign that recovery might be around the corner. Shipments to the EU make up 60% of total exports (on a volume basis), making Europe a principal destination for Taiwanese makers, but in the first six months, the numbers fell 27.7% on a volume basis and 17.9% in monetary value. In the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and other high-consuming countries, shipments fell overall, decreasing 20 to 40% on a volume basis and 10 to 30% in monetary value. The US accounts for around 15% of exports from Taiwan, but here, too, the outlook continued to be bleak, with volume down 27.4% and monetary value down 25.5%.
The shift in shipments to China has been clear since the second half of 2015, but it was around the beginning of 2016 that the numbers began showing serious regression. Considering various factors at work, among them surplus intermediate inventories being held because of unstable domestic demand, tighter regulations governing gift-giving, and a growing shift to electric bikes, it looks as though it will take considerable time before the industry can expect any recovery. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, preliminary figures for the second quarter of this year (April-June) showed that the Chinese economy stayed flat, with growth at 6.7%. This low level of growth has continued since the first quarter of 2009, when the collapse of the Lehman Brothers triggered a g loba l economic crisis. The slow pace is expected to continue, with no grounds for expectation of an upturn.
Industry Needs Collect ive Wisdom, Decisive Action On Bold Measures
Bicycle manufacturers are having troubles of their own, with shipments to China down by 30 to 40% across the board, the level of three years ago. Taiwanese parts makers operating in mainland China are dealing with malaise as well, with the result that companies are cutting back on production en masse, delaying or canceling plans for new facilities and expansion, and refraining from hiring new employees. Makers are almost vying with each other to carry out serious reviews and revamping of their heretofore mainland China policies. In capital investments, firms are beginning to limit replacement of existing equipment with automated versions, as well as upgrades aimed at streamlining and saving labor. As a result, when the new business year rolled around in July, the majority of makers were cautious and conservative with their new models for 2017, and overall it seemed that vigor was running low, with few groundbreaking products to be seen. Parts makers also seem to be vanishing from the scene, and few have been making proactive efforts to push their product development in negotiations with bicycle makers.
The predominant question in negotiations seems to be how far sellers will discount their products. The only energy seen in talks is when bicycle makers start pushing for lower prices. Naturally, that attitude means that parts makers are less eager to develop new products, and dancing around the issues with only the short-term situation in mind seems to be the order of the day. Manufacturers know very well that manufacturing products simply to keep their production lines going is a backwards and risky approach, but with performance figures in freefall, they have no maneuvering room and are being forced to adopt increasingly defensive management. The cohesion and solidarity that companies so aptly demonstrated back when King Liu was calling on makers to create products with high added value are long gone. In order to ride out and overcome this unprecedented recession, the industry needs to come together and pool its wisdom as quickly as possible, and to embark on decisive action to implement drastic measures.