Darfon Electronics Corp (達方電子), which supplies notebook keyboards for Apple Inc, launched its first electric bicycle during the annual Taipei International Cycle Show in Taipei last week, making a significant step toward transforming itself from a PC keyboard maker into a green vehicle manufacturer.
The company said it has invested years in the research and development of green vehicles, and started to offer original equipment and original design manufacturing services to European electric bicycle brands two years ago in response to the demand for electric bicycles from developed countries.
“After years of developing the technologies and designs for electric bicycles, we think it is time to launch our own electric bicycle brand, BESV, in a bid to realize the business potential of green transportation,” a company executive told the Taipei Times.
Darfon made NT$780 million, (US$24.87 million), or NT$0.24 per share, in net profit last year, up from NT$2.53 million, or NT$0.01 per share, in 2013, according to the company’s filings with the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
Revenue totaled NT$21.53 billion last year, down 8.38 percent from NT$23.5 billion a year earlier.
Darfon said it aims to ship more than 10,000 pedal-assisted electric bikes worldwide and expects sales to reach NT$1 billion this year on the back of strong demand from Europe.
“We expect BESV to break even next year by doubling sales from this year, and becoming profitable by 2017,” Darfon president Andy Su (蘇開建) told reporters on the sideline of the annual bicycle trade show.
Darfon attributed the growing demand to changing demographics in European countries, saying that pedal-assisted electric bicycles help older people to pedal without effort.
Darfon said BESV’s Panther PS1 pedal-assisted electric bicycle is equipped with the company’s advanced Algorhythm power drive system, which ensures the smoothest of rides by offering various modes of use.
Riders can switch to smart mode, in which the bike calculates the necessary level of assistance by taking riding conditions and the rider’s pedaling power into account, the company said.
The Taiwan External Trade Development Council also foresees a growing demand for electric bikes, particularly from Europe.
Taiwan exported a total of 66,000 complete electric bikes last year, a 77.98 percent jump from the previous year’s 37,000, with demand from Europe accounting for 87.87 percent, or 58,000 electric bikes of the total number of electric bikes exported last year, council data showed.
The number of electric bikes exported to Europe increased 87.2 percent from a year earlier, demonstrating the strong demand from the region, the council said.
Fritz Jou Corp (順捷股份有限公司), Fairly Bike Manufacturing Co (菲力工業) and Ming Cycle Industrial Co (永祺車業) — Taiwanese bicycle assembling manufacturers — all said orders for electric bikes from Europe, North America and Australia have surged in the past two years.
China Motor Co (CMC, 中華汽車), the nation’s third-largest car distributor, which has been developing electric motorbikes for years, also launched a motor specifically for electric bicycles during the annual bike show in Taipei.
China Motor said in a statement that Amazing Wheels, a European electric bicycle manufacturer, placed a large order for China Motor’s mid-motor kits and internal hub gears at the bike show.
Smartphone maker HTC Corp’s (宏達電) former chief innovative officer, Horace Luke (陸學森), also has his eye on the green transportation market.
Gogoro Inc (睿能創意), which was cofounded by Luke and backed mainly by Taiwanese tycoon Samuel Yin (尹衍樑), in January unveiled its first smartscooter at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Gogoro’s paid-in capital totaled NT$821 million, according to the company’s latest filing with the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Luke is the company’s chairman and Yin is on the four-seat board.
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