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Taiwan sparks up electric bike promotion efforts

Taiwan’s electric bike industry is set for a significant jolt under a private-public sector development initiative presented to the Cabinet on January 3.

The plan, which involves a three-way partnership between manufacturers and central and local governments, would see a network of charging facilities set up on public land in Taipei, New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung by 2017.

Subsidies and tax breaks aimed at boosting sales of electric bikes are also part of the proposal, which aims to have 50,000 units zipping around the streets of Taiwan’s five municipalities by 2017.

“Emerging industries such as electric bikes need the chance to conduct pilot operations,” said Minister Without Portfolio Cyrus C.Y. Chu. “Without these experiences, there is no way the industry can expand locally or abroad.”

Taiwan electric bike-makers believe they have the right products to make significant headway in the local market, but have repeatedly called for greater government support to ensure the wheels do not fall off their nascent ventures.

Chu said governments participating in the plan would take stakes in new firms set up to run the charging stations. “This creates a virtuous cycle as the cities can use income from these holdings to invest in other projects and create more revenues,” he added.

The Cabinet’s Office of Science and Technology has appointed state-run Industrial Technology Research Institute to conduct a study on other forms of electric bike industry collaboration, and regulatory changes required to put such plans in place.

“We expect to receive the results by the end of May at the latest and have put this initiative on the fast track,” Chu said.

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