Biden’s new import rules will also affect e-bike batteries

Last week, the Biden administration announced it would impose dramatic new tariffs on electric vehicles, electric vehicle batteries and battery components imported into the United States from China. The move kicked off another round of global debate about how best to push the transportation industry toward an emissions-free future, and how global automakers outside China should compete with the country’s well-designed, low-cost auto options. Asian.

But what is an electric? vehicle exactly? China has also dominated bicycle manufacturing; was responsible for about 80 percent of US bicycle imports in 2021, according to a report. In cycling circles, new U.S. trade policies have raised questions about how much bike companies will have to pay to introduce Chinese-made bikes and components into the United States, and whether the new costs will be passed on to U.S. customers.

On Wednesday, the Office of the US Trade Representative, the US agency that creates trade policy, clarified that electric bike batteries would also be affected by the new policy.

In a written statement, USTR spokesperson Angela Perez said e-bike batteries imported from China alone will be subject to new tariffs of 25 percent in 2026, up from 7.5 percent.

But it is unclear whether imported complete electric bicycles, as well as other cycling products, including children’s bicycles and bicycle trailers, could be affected by the new US trade policies. These products have technically been subject to 25 percent tariffs since the Trump administration. But U.S. trade officials have consistently used exclusions to exempt many of those cycling products from tariffs. The latest round of exclusions is set to expire at the end of this month.

Perez, the USTR spokesman, said the future of tariff exclusions related to bicycles would be “addressed in the coming days.”

If the administration doesn’t extend tariff exclusions for some bicycle products made in China, it “won’t help adoption” of electric bikes, says Matt Moore, chief policy officer at bicycle advocacy group PeopleForBikes. Following the announcement of additional tariffs on Chinese products earlier this month, PeopleForBikes urged its members to contact local representatives and advocate for an extension of the tariff exclusions. The group estimates that tariff exclusions have saved the bicycle industry more than $130 million since 2018. It’s difficult to determine how much this has saved bicycle buyers, but overall, Moore says, companies that pay “costs “landing costs”, that is, the cost of the product to get from the factory to the owner’s home: increase prices to cover their margins.

The tariff dispute comes as the United States is in the midst of a prolonged e-bike boom. Electric bike sales in the United States peaked in 2022 at $903 million, up from $240 million in 2019, according to Circana’s Retail Tracking Service. Sales soared as Americans looked for ways to stay active and take advantage of empty pandemic-era streets. Electric bike sales fell last year, but have increased 4 percent since the beginning of 2024, according to Circana.

In the United States, climate-conscious state and local governments have begun to think more seriously about subsidizing e-bikes in the same way they do electric cars. States like Colorado and Hawaii provide rebates to income-qualified residents. E-bike rebate programs in Denver and Connecticut were so popular with cyclists that they ran out of funds in a matter of days.

A paper published last year by researchers at the University of California, Davis suggests that these types of programs could work. It found that people who used local and state rebate programs to purchase e-bikes reported cycling more after their purchases. Nearly 40 percent of respondents said they replaced at least one weekly car trip with their electric bike in the long term, the type of switch that could noticeably reduce carbon emissions.

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