Chinese Bafang invests $16m in Wroclaw electric bike components

Electric bike component specialist manufacturer Bafang cut the ribbon on a 6,000 square metre assembly facility in Poland in early October.

Designed to better serve the European market, for which the firm’s client list is growing year-on-year, the Wroclaw facility is flanked by distribution hubs for Amazon and LG Chem, among others, indicating the ambition of the opening.

Starting with 50 staff, the plant is well located to receive components from China where Bafang head office is located and also in a position to reduce its lead time and service capability to France, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy and numerous other key markets. It is intended that a network of local suppliers will gradually reduce the reliance on long-distance part shipping.

It was a point raised in an opening speech by Cycleeurope Group boss Tony Grimaldi. “A decade ago we sold only around 100,000 electric bikes in Europe. This year that figure is likely to be closer to 3 million and that could well rise to between 15 to 20 million units in the future, according to an evaluation the ECF, Bafang and ourselves have undertaken. It is thanks to collaboration with Bafang that we will meet the needs on quality and price; it used to be impossible.”

The investment totals €14.4 million/$16 million and initially is focused on production of mid motor products, for which the European demand runs at about 80% of orders versus hub motors. In Asia the split is approximately half and half.

The facility at the present time has three operational production lines and employs 50, but those figures are set to quickly grow. In 2020 Bafang intends to have six production lines to sit beneath 800 square metres of offices overhead.

Speaking to CyclingIndustry.News, co-founder Sunny He (left) said: “In year one we hope to have 100,000 units completed. This will be good testing and training ground for our operation as we build for the future. A large part of this operation is to enhance our service and supply levels to local markets. We have around 50 to 60 customers in Europe and a few hundred worldwide, so it is important to provide shorter lead times and better service locally.”

Next year, says He, it is intended that triple the number of units will have been produced by the close, bringing the tally to 300,000 units. This is to meet strengthening demand across Europe for components as brands ramp up their commitment to electric bikes. Within three years the production sums ramp up further; 600,000 is targeted.

Among the motors coming off the production line is a new 2.3 kilogram drive unit that comes up very competitively specced against its competition. The M400, M420 and M300 are currently being built in Poland.

Controllers and displays will be assembled in a special soldering department, with all products undergoing a thorough QC check on site. At present a network of local suppliers is being established to reduce the reliance on Asian supply.

The firm also recently detailed its battery tech advantages and further discussed today bringing this production in house in Poland.

“This is not so hard to bring in house, but of course you need some skill and safety planned in,” said He. “But the battery comprises only seven parts, while the motor has many more. We are maybe one year away from having this capability in house.”

Bafang has been operational inside the European electric bike market since 2004, though has to date shipped product from China.

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