Tuesday, October 4, 2011

EBikes Boost Hungarian Economy

It's just a personal impression, but it seems Hungary has a pretty significant bike-manufacturing industry. Along with the most familiar maker, Schwinn Csepel, there are loads of smaller brands produced here, including Caprine and Hauser (both made by a company called Avex Zrt.), Neuser, Mali, Gepida and Hercules. In 2007, a Dutch-owned company in the tiny town of Tószeg, Accell Hunland kft., became famous (in bike-blogging circles, anyway) as the maker of the sturdy, uniquely styled velocipedes of Paris's Vélib public bike system.

But does bike making really contribute much to the Hungarian economy? Maybe the following news item offers an answer: a couple weeks ago, Bosch, the electronics and services giant, opened a new plant in Miskolc that's been tasked with mass production of its new electronic bike motor.

This new plant -- which will produce some automotive gizmos along with the bike motors -- will add about 1,100 new jobs to Bosch's Miskolc operations. That's nothing to sniff at in the middle of a recession. Still, it was a surprise to learn which government official attended the plant's ribbon cutting: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Flanked by two big wigs from Bosch is the biggest cheese the Hungarian government has to offer.
According to Bosch communications officer Martina Horton, the bike motors won’t be the plants’ main product, but they will have strategic importance for the company. “This product presents very well the innovative technology of Bosch and environmental protection, so that producing eBike motors has a symbolic message as well,” Horton explained to me by email.

The motor was developed and produced in a small run in Mondeville, France, Bosch’s lead plant for eBike technology, Horton explained. Mass production was assigned to Hungary: an existing Bosch facility in the town of Hatvan will produce the motors’ electronics while the new plant in Miskolc will handle final assembly of the motor and drive unit.

These things are going to be a hit in China.
Production volume will depend on demand, according to Horton. However, the company has orders for 25 brands of eBikes, which is “a promising start,” she added.

Maybe it's fanciful thinking, but it seems to me that the government could do well by pulling out all the stops to promote Hungary as a cycling country: as a destination for cycling tourism, as a country of bikable cities, as a centre for cycling sport. If it does this, more economic plums like the one that dropped on Miskolc are sure to follow.

1 comment:

tomasc said...

Well, there is definitely improvement http://copenhagenize.eu/index/index.html

Considering the financial situation it is impressive result, and big part because of grass root movement of people demanding changes.

I did lot of biking in London when i used to work there and that was aggressive place for bikers. No wonder we beat them hands down.