China Syndrome – Melt Down To Europe
In April 2010 as we waited for the European Commission to publish its draft legislation/proposal regarding – Approval and market surveillance of two – or three-wheel vehicles and quadricycles, Right To Ride published the “China Syndrome” document.
The European Commission published its proposal in October 2010 and since then it has moved through European procedures where the proposal with amendments his now being discussed and is waiting for a vote in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) by MEPs before it heads to the European Parliament for a vote, scheduled at present for sometime in February 2012.
Meanwhile, the Council of the European Union (Council of Ministers) which is where the European Member States’ government representatives sit, is discussing their alignment with the proposal and the IMCO amendments.
However at a recent event “Improving the Outlook for Motorcycle Mobility” organised by the Forum for the Automobile and Society and held in Brussels ,the IMCO Rapporteur Mr. Wim van de Camp, (the MEP in charge of the amendments) commented, “As for the emission limits, 26 Member States agreed with the proposal and only the United Kingdom remained to finalise its position.”
In June 2011 the European Directorate General For Internal Policies issued a Briefing Note – Policy Department A: Economic And Scientific Policy – Internal Market And Consumer Protection – Market surveillance in relation to type approval requirements. The document states that, “Empirical evidence from EU based manufacturers as well as from national type approval authorities shows that a worrying and increasing number of motorcycles, scooters and mopeds imported from China, are not compliant.
In June 2010 we reported in our article – A Brighter World – that the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) has highlighted on their website a video produced by the Safer Roads Foundation – “The critical importance of the “Automatic Headlights On” (AHO) function for Powered Two-Wheelers (PTWs) submission to the Automotive Unit of DG Enterprise and Industry.”
The members of the motorcycle industry representative body in Europe ACEM have since 2003 introduced a voluntary agreement for (AHO) Automatic Headlight On but are now in agreement with the European Commissions proposal to mandate AHO we asked then “Why is it that the industry wants legislation on head lights for motorcycles? The answer’s simple – it’s because there is an influx of cheap motorcycles mainly from the far east that do not have AHO and ACEM doesn’t like that or more to the point, by pushing for legislation, the industry has an opportunity of reducing the competition.”
So it is not just about emissions, safety and illegal versus positive modifications to our future bikes, the European motorcycle industry has on the one hand, been supportive of EU legislation that would reduce competition from outside Europe through mandatory ABS, AHO and OBD, while on the other hand, they have been courting the Chinese to sell their motorcycles.
Showing Off In China
In July 2011 the EICMA CHINA—The Motorcycle Show took place at the National Convention Center Beijing, organized by the China-Italy Motorcycle Exhibition (Beijing) Co. Ltd and sponsored by the China Chamber Commerce of Motorcycle (CCCM) – Genertec International Advertising & Exhibition Co., Ltd. (Genertec) and Eicma SPA (“Milan International Motorcycle and Bicycle Show”(EICMA) is the largest professional two-wheel vehicles show in the world, has been successfully held for 66 sessions, attracting the world-class motorcycle brands and exhibitors each time.”)
Alongside the show the “International Motorcycle Industry Environmental Protection Forum” was held when both Chinese and international environmental protection authorities were invited to discuss new energy technology and the environmental protection trend of the motorcycle industry.
The “blurbs” for the show state: “One of the most important agreements signed at the Italy-China Economic and Trade Forum under the witness of the Minister of China Ministry of Commerce and the Minister of Italy Ministry of Economic Relations and Trade in July 2009, is an international, professional and market-oriented motorcycle exposition held by CCCM, Eicma SPA and Genertec with the advantage of strong-strong union and mutual resource complementarity.
Targeting to the global manufacturers, purchasers and fans of the motorcycle and parts, EICMA will collectively display the whole level of the global motorcycle industry, including new products, new technologies new materials as well as the global developing trend and provide an all-round display, purchase, exchange and cooperation platform for both Chinese and international motorcycle enterprises to establish their brand images, increase orders, develop new markets and promote domestic and overseas investment and R&D cooperation.”
In our China Syndrome document we asked. “Will the quality of imports from China lead to a melt down in reverse as motorcycles from China flood into Europe?”
It looks now as if China and the motorcycle industry is swapping quality, information and trade to stop unsafe, unregulated and pollutant motorcycle imports from China that have flooded EU markets which appear to have passed Type Approval but which flout present regulations.
Or is it as simple as that?
From our April 2010 China Syndrome document.
The Motorcycle Industry in Europe (ACEM) has reported that over a period of several years motorcycles, scooters and mopeds imported from manufacturers based in China have serious issues regarding safety (brakes stopping longer than is permitted), sound levels (by 5 decibels), emissions (exceeded the limit by 150%) failing to comply with EU Type Approval.
RAPEX (the EU’s Rapid Alert System for non-food consumer products) reported that in one case scooters imported from China are unsafe and that the scooters posed a risk of electric shock and explosion and fire.
The problem is not only confined to Europe, in the US, Chinese imports are creating enormous headaches for the authorities there.
It is ironic that on the one hand, the EU Commission is considering anti-tampering measures to “guarantee that after a modification to the type approved vehicle by the end-user the type approval emission limits continue to be respected for the remaining vehicle life after the repair / modification”. Yet at the same time does not prohibit the flow of polluting and unsafe motorcycles and scooters to enter the EU market from China.
Perhaps it would be better for our EU civil servants to recognise that the modification of motorcycles using type approved parts is an important and profitable European industry, which does not need restricting through proposed anti-tampering legislation and that over prescriptive regulations should be avoided.
The European Commission would do far more for Europe by halting shoddy non-compliant products arriving on our shores from China rather than destroying the motorcycle aftermarket industry with unnecessary legislation.
The Future Is China – Beyond Motorcycling
The European motorcycle industry is in crisis. The Chinese motorcycle industry is flourishing and flooding Europe’s markets with their cheap and cheerful motorcycles and scooters. Europe’s automotive and motorcycle industry (that includes the Japanese manufacturers) have a vested interest in excluding China. But that is protectionism.
The dichotomy is that China is now the most powerful country in the world in terms of economics and manufacturing. In five or ten years, our banks, financial institutions, imports and exports will be driven by Beijing’s policies – not by the EU Commission, not the US and certainly not the UK government.
The West is in decline, the new world will be led by China, India and the oil rich countries of the middle east.
The European Union is floundering in its inability to come to terms with basic economic principles and ironically is now asking China for help to resolve its economic crisis.
The joke in this respect is that while we may also find that legislation proposed by the EU Commission and enacted by politicians that have no understanding of these economic principles, will find the average EU citizen, broke, unemployed with a house/car or motorcycle that he/she can no longer afford.
Another likely scenario is that as the motorcycle industry implodes, European motorcycle manufacturers forced to close down or sell, may find themselves with new owners from China.
Perhaps it’s time we looked at the bigger picture?
Right To Ride – China Syndrome report pdf 484kb Click Here
ACEM Report – The Motorcycle Industry in Europe – January 2010 – Click Here – pdf 4.8mb
June 2010 – Right To Ride’s – A Brighter World – Click Here
June 2011 – Briefing Note – Directorate General For Internal Policies – Policy Department A: Economic And Scientific Policy – Internal Market And Consumer Protection – Market surveillance in relation to type approval requirements – Click Here – pdf 564kb
Right To Ride EU – Full details on Framework Regulation Click Here
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