An Indian official recently toured Japan’s bicycle industry with an aim to transfer the country’s cutting-edge technology and know-how to India, which is currently facing severe competition in the sector from China.
Devinder Pal Singh Kharbanda, director of industries in the northern state of Punjab, said in an interview with Kyodo News earlier this month that his visit’s aim was to learn “what Japan has done well in the cycle industry, so we can learn from Japanese technology.”
India is the second-largest bicycle producer after China and “70 to 80 percent of cycles in India are produced in Punjab,” said Kharbanda, who is also the chairman of a Ludhiana institute that offers worker training and conducts bicycle testing.
India produces about 10 percent of all bicycles in the world, compared with 67 percent made by China, and has been facing the challenges of steel price increases and a trend of global manufacturers turning to China for high-quality parts.
In an attempt to address such problems, Kharbanda and his team from the Research and Development Center for Bicycle and Sewing Machines Ludhiana visited Japanese bicycle manufacturers, testing institutions and a design school, and talked with Japanese industry representatives.
The visit was organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, which connects businesses between developed and developing countries.
Kharbanda said his team is targeting technologies for electric bicycles and use of aluminum alloy instead of steel alloy, which makes bikes “lighter in weight” and ensures they have “good ambiance.”
Currently, according to data from the Japan Bicycle Promotion Institute, Japan does not export bicycles to India. However, Kharbanda said a short-term exchange program has been considered for engineers from the institute in Ludhiana to study at Japanese bicycle makers and upgrade their skills.
He called for Japanese investment in the Indian bicycle industry, saying it will be a “win-win situation” for both countries as the fast-growing market with a population of some 1.3 billion produces about 15 million bicycles a year.
Kharbanda also said that under the state industrial policy, established and new industries willing to invest in Punjab will receive concessions in property and various other taxes. Electricity expenses in the state are among the lowest in India, he added.