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Where is my Ebike Manufactured?

Have you ever wondered where your ebike is made? Maybe you’ve been told that all ebikes come from China. However, this statement is entirely untrue. It does come from an idea that is true - a LOT of the parts for bikes do come from China and many bikes are entirely "made" in China. Also, some of the necessary components on an ebike brand, such as the motors, battery cases, the controllers (CPUs), and display screens are primarily manufactured in China. So as a result, no matter where your ebike originates from, it is hard to avoid some of the parts coming from China. It is simply a reality in today's manufacturing world.

Beyond China - there are a significant number of bike brands and component suppliers spread throughout Asia, including Taiwan. Although some people will lump Taiwan in with China, they are totally different countries and of course operate differently. Many factories in both countries create excellent bike products and are the plants behind most of the North American and European brand names. Of course, here in the USA, China has been a military, political, and in many cases a trade enemy for generations, while Taiwan and other Asian countries have been our ally since WWII.

U.S. trade with China has grown enormously in recent decades and is significant for both countries. Today, the United States imports more from China than from any other country, and China is one of the largest export markets for U.S. goods and services. This trade has benefitted the United States in the form of lower prices for consumers and higher profits for corporations, but it has also come with costs. Though U.S. consumers benefit from the flood of cheaper goods from China, millions of Americans have lost their jobs due to import competition. China pressures American companies to hand over their technology, or often have pilfered it outright. A U.S. factory closes, related businesses shut their doors, and unemployment numbers in the U.S. rise.

There was optimism with China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) twenty years ago, but that has vanished. Beijing has embraced state-led development, pouring subsidies into targeted industries to the detriment of U.S. and foreign companies. China is for China.

Meanwhile, investment by Chinese companies in the U.S. has increasingly raised national security concerns and accusations of large-scale bias, piracy, and win-lose partnerships. Rules need to be applied equally. The United Sates doesn't restrict the sale of its securities, so China invests in U.S. Treasury debt which increases the dollar relative to the value of China's currency, the yuan. This, in turn, makes Chinese goods cheaper and more attractive than U.S. goods to buyers. China is the second largest foreign holder (Japan is first), holding over a trillion dollars of U.S. debt securities.

Within the mature bicycle industry, the American consumer has lagged behind their counterparts in Europe and Asia in terms of adoption, Bicycles have commonly been used as a mode of transportation in crowded Asia, rather than as the recreational experience by most U.S. bikers. As a result, bicycle factories have produced millions of bicycles every year in Asia - for decades. It is a well developed industry, and now with advances in electronics, it is only natural their factories would quickly adopt technology advances on bikes. Container ships have simplified exports, so sending a bicycle across the water is straight forward, and the market for an Asian factory's product has become worldwide. Many European and Australian brands also rely on the Asian bike and component factories, with the containers moving products through the Suez canal to European ports.

A common perception is that things manufactured in China today are of poor quality. This is not a statement that is relevant to the times. There are many quality manufacturing successes on various products in many industries in China. Your cell phone and laptop brand are probably manufactured in China (Apple Iphone, IBM / Lenovo laptop, etc.). Also, many products manufactured in China may have problems that don’t relate to where they are manufactured, but more to where they were designed and engineered. Big brands use ODMs (“original design manufacturers”) prevalent in Asia to assemble and manufacture components of their products for them. The design process is typically where the component quality level is defined, not at the factory. American bike brands select their bike components at the engineering phase and define their duty cycle, aka quality level in conjunction with their chosen factory.

Many U.S. and foreign brands have poured billions of dollars into building manufacturing facilities in mainland China in order to exploit China’s cheap manufacturing costs—costs which one might argue were ridiculously low because of harsh (and even slave) labor conditions, lax environmental protections, and a government that says maintaining a strong manufacturing base is a key component of national security. The Chinese government subsidizes companies to win bids today so that eventually they can monopolize entire manufacturing sectors down the road. Not good for the U.S. in the long run, but in the short=term, this manufacturing shift has provided lower product costs, greater company profitability, and a higher stock price for the U.S. company. The American labor force faces worldwide competition from all continents today, not just from Asia, and China leads the pack.