While the public bicycle sharing (PBS) initiative is yet to be launched across most smart cities, many manufacturers are crying foul over the import of bicycles from China in the few cities where the initiative has been launched. The bicycle makers are calling for the procurement of ‘Make in India’ products rather than depending on imports for the initiative.
Chairman and managing director of Avon cycles, Onkar Singh Pahwa, claims that bikes have started coming in from China at smart cities like Mysore, Coimbatore, Pune and Bhopal. The members of All India Bicycle Manufacturers’ Association held a meeting on Monday to discuss the issue.
“China’s PBS initiative in 2014 was piloted by two Chinese operators — Ofo and Mobike — augmented with several other operators in which dock-less technology was employed which needs a smartphone, online payment facility and a PBS bicycle. After downloading an app, one can locate the PBS bike, unlock it and ride it, park it anywhere and lock it manually after finishing the ride. However, after the scheme, bicycles flooded the public spaces and the Chinese government had to control the growth rate. Now China is all set to dump its extra production in countries like India. We are not against the concept, but import of bikes from China will hit our industry hard. We appeal the government to believe in their slogan of Make in India rather than hitting this industry hard,” said KK Seth, owner of Ludhiana-based Seth Industrial Corporation.
Some industry insiders also said that PBS is facing resistance in the European Union and also in some parts of the US due to data sharing issues.
According to industry experts, India was the second largest producer of bicycles in the world in 2017 with a production of 16.5 million bicycles.
“With an annual turnover of Rs 6,000 crore, the industry employs about one million in its value chain. India has around 11 crore bicycle users,” said Gurmeet Singh Kular, President of Federation of Industrial and commercial undertakings (FICO). Pahwa added: “In India, PBS has been planned ever since the launch of the Smart Cities Mission and about 10 brands (both Chinese and Indian) are competing across India. However, Chinese companies are more likely to penetrate the Indian market because of their low-cost manufacturing which is backed by large scale funding and aggressive networking.”
The Association members stated that they plan to meet the urban development minister and the commerce minister over this issue.
The Association estimates that the country will need around 2 million PBS bicycles in the next 3-5 years. Pune alone has a requirement of about 1 lakh PBS bikes in the next three years. The industry body also stated that the smart cities need cycling lanes for this scheme to run successfully. SK Rai, MD of Hero Cycles, Rahul Kapoor from Atlas Bicycles, Inderjit Singh Navyug, President of United Bicycles Parts and Manufacturers Association were among those present at the meeting.