Taiwan’s presence in the powersports industry grows
Taiwan Motorcycle Show puts country’s industry footprint on the map
“Without Taiwan, you don’t get parts!”
That was the ever-so-appropriate message from Taiwan External Trade Development Council chairman Wang Chih-kang that kicked off the 8th Taiwan International Motorcycle Show last month at Taipei’s World Trade Center.
And while Hung Chiao-chang, chairman of the Motorcycles Manufacturing Committee of the Taiwan Transportation Vehicles Manufacturers Association reported a 2012 decline of 3.8 percent in exports of motorcycles (904,000 units), there was reason to believe that Taiwanese component manufacturers and suppliers were banking on a more successful 2013.
The connections between powersports OEMs and worldwide industry manufacturers were limitless in the exhibit hall at the TWTC. Din Li’s new 800cc motorcycle greeted attendees as they entered the exhibit hall, but in the adjacent booth sat a handful of Victory Motorcycles. That’s right, Victory now has a presence on the island, with Paul Shyu proudly wearing his Victory Motorcycles leather vest. The country’s newest dealership, Hyderson Motorcycles, was set to open the weekend after the trade-only show, and Shyu was already looking forward to hosting the Ness family — Arlen, Zach and Cory — as part of the grand opening party. The famed U.S. motorcycle trio had planned a trip to do business of their own in Taiwan, and their most recent excursion coincided with the new Victory dealership’s opening in Taipei.
“It was incredible timing, yes,” Shyu said. “They come to Taiwan a couple of times a year, and they said they could come to the dealership for the celebration. It’ll be fantastic. I just love their bikes.”
The recently retired Shyu, a longtime Harley-Davidson rider, jumped at the chance to take on the Victory point in Taiwan and Hong Kong after test riding a Cross Country at an event in China.
Din Li chairman Tai Yant Lu, meanwhile, hoped to gain even more export business with its new “heavy duty” clutchless 800cc motorcycle, which also has a reverse gear. It exports about 90 percent of its product line, with Russia as its No. 1 market. Din Li also carries a broad lineup of ATVs, motorcycles and scooters, with ATVs comprising more than half of its business. It opted to bring the 800cc model to production due to demand from customers.
Business is strong, the company reports, and it included a newly released 50cc ATV among its products at the show. Its features include a remote control device that stops the engine.
And while Din Li was the largest of the domestic OEMs to exhibit at the show — held in conjunction with companion events within the electric vehicle, auto parts and auto electronics events — the list of vendors was impressive. The range of suppliers to the powersports industry included manufacturers of bearings, brakes, control systems, rubber and plastic components, motorcycle locks, ball bearings, sprockets, chains, trailer accessories, piston rings, fuel pipes, steering system parts, brake piping, shocks, axles, frames, handle bars, fenders, hubs, belts, gaskets, exhausts, windshields, grips, rims, engines, carburetors, cylinders, oil pumps, oil seals, EFI systems, pistons, batteries, starters, turn signals, lamps and gauges.
Execs a familiar sight
And while the brands may have been unknown to many, there were plenty of familiar faces to those in the industry. Emil Gomez, whose Georgia-based aftermarket products company EMGO has a facility in Taiwan, was checking out the lineup of exhibitors. Other executives like Tucker Rocky’s Brian Berney, vice president of product development, and Charlie Hadayia, Jr., director of business development for Biker’s Choice, spent a day in Taipei visiting with business partners at the show before embarking on a 10-day trip to China to do more of the same.
OEM and aftermarket, too
Before they left, they could have learned about Accel, which features 27 CNC machines that allow it to do both proprietary OEM work and aftermarket sales for motocross and street bikes in the U.S. and Europe. Accel, which counts on OEM work for about half of its sales, had dozens of aftermarket products for bikes such as Honda’s CBR series and Kawasaki’s Ninja and Er-6n, a European model.
“Our customers trust us with our quality,” sales manager Tracy Hsieh said. “We’ve gone from having customers mostly in the USA and Europe, and now we have growth in Brazil and East Asia.”
Hsieh said the domestic market accounts for about 5 percent of Accel’s business, with motocross cables faring exceptionally well in the U.S. market.
Alligator, a 35-year-old Taiwanese manufacturer of brake, clutch and throttle cables, exports about 60 percent of its sales to the U.S. and Europe. Its new outer casing is showing promise, and its aluminum alloy cables are 50 percent lighter than the competition, according to sales rep Howard Yeh. Alligator’s 31-strain inner cable provides much more flexibility than more common cables, which feature 19 strains. Both the alloy casing and the 31-strain cable are patented.
Scott Stevens, a former quality control manager for Puegot in the U.K., talked to several exhibitors about products he has in the works. He was at the Taipei show for the third time.
“It’s easy to do business here,” he said. “They have good quality, competitive pricing, and the people are friendly. They get me the prototypes I need — usually two at most — and they develop high-quality products. I’ve been to the factories and I’ve seen the confidence that their employees have.”
“I’m doing under 180cc engine builds, and the companies I work with in Taiwan, they all hold the specifications,” Stevens said.