Riders keen on the increasingly popular electric assisted bicycle are in for a shock to the wallet.
Yesterday the Federal Government gazetted a 5% tariff on all ebikes imported to Australia. Ouch!
The only exception is bikes imported from countries that are signatories to a free trade agreement.
Most ebikes are coming in from Taiwan or Europe, so they will all suffer significant price rises.
The hand holding the cattle prodder that just jammed into your behind is Stealth, an Australian ebike manufacturer.
Maybe Stealth thinks it needs protection from overseas imports.
But get this: You won’t find Stealth bikes in Australian bike shops.
Its get worse: Stealth bikes are essentially electric motorbikes and are illegal in Australia. You can’t ride them as bicycles on paths or on streets.
The motors are 5200 watts, and the top speed is 80kph.
A legal ebike is 250 watts or less.
It is actually illegal to import into Australia bikes such as those Stealth exports from Australia.
Stealth brands its bikes as Australian made. But the components are imported and the bikes are assembled here. And then painted. That makes them “Australian Made” when they are exported.
To summarise: the price of your e-bike is going up to protect the business of an Australian ebike manufacturer whose products can’t be ridden in an Australian bike lane.
How can this policy shambles make its way from Yes Minister into the Australian bicycle market-place?
Its complicated. Bikes are technically subject to a tariff when imported, but in reality no tariff is levied because bikes have been officially exempted.
It is that exemption that Stealth has successfully requested be revoked.
So, any ebike subject to the tariff that has been imported since January 9 this year, when the revocation was applied for, now costs 5% more.
This is policy farce of the highest order.
Ebikes are ideal for Australia’s more widespread settlements and will make a tremendous contribution towards reducing private car use, if they are affordable. They are quick, convenient, and improve health of the users and the environment.
The federal government should be on the front foot trying to encourage their use, not penalising consumers who are simply trying to find a better way of getting to work.
Bicycle Industries Australia, which represents the companies that provide legal ebikes to Australian consumers, has announced it will approach the Federal Government to seek an exemption from the tariff to ebikes that are 250 watts or less.
That could take months and in the meantime consumers are being ripped off.