Last week we had a container seized by pirates.
Yes really!!! Our bikes were hijacked and we received a ransom demand in excess of £20,000.
This demand for an 106% import tariff came from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs who had intercepted our latest shipment at Felixtowe docks and transported it to an unknown location. Of course we have become accustomed to slipping HMRC a few quid for the privilege of bringing our bikes into the country but, it transpired, this was not the reason for the attempted extortion.
The problem was not that we were importing our bikes into the UK but that we were importing them into the European Union and the EU had seen fit to implement massive anti dumping tariffs on electric bikes from the Peoples Republic of China. If we pay the ransom 80% of it will end up in EU coffers and although we have been importing bikes regularly for the last five years, nobody had seen fit to inform us of the change!!!
Now you may have noticed that the status of the UK in the EU is a matter of great topical debate and the rationale for the increase in tariffs is to protect European E Bike manufacturers from competition that is allegedly subsidised by the Chinese government. But, no matter how you feel about state subsidies, protectionism and free trade, if you know anything about the electric bike industry you will understand that the rationale for this import tax is fundamentally flawed.
E Bike manufacturing in Europe comprises a very few top end German and Swiss manufacturers who sell over engineered, mid-motor bikes at ludicrously high prices to the relatively few customers able to afford them. The kind of electric bikes made in Europe are not remotely in competition with those from the Chinese manufacturers who have developed the fundamentals of electric bike technology and who use superior brushless hub motors to provide reliable transportation at relatively low cost.
We have previously pointed out that E Rider has made a greater contribution to the environment than our own Government but, sadly, we are now faced with some existential questions. With the cost price of our products effectively doubled will customers still buy our bikes if we have to double our retail prices? Should we press on until the end of March, 2019 to see if we actually do leave the EU and these punitive tariffs are revoked?
Over the years, E Rider has been proud to contribute to the UK economy by paying hundreds of thousand of pounds in import duty, VAT, Corporation Tax etc. The millions of low cost journeys our customers have undertaken have contributed significantly to lowering our carbon emissions.
So should we just call it a day?
Please feel free to comment below.