About Gowei

Bridging Divides: Chinese e-tricycle looks to make mark on U.S. market
2024-02-26 Reading volume: 9017


A video has gone viral on Chinese social media showing a small electric vehicle that's popular in rural China on the streets of suburban America. It started when a Chinese woman gave the "sengbengzi," or "three bumps," as a birthday present to her American father-in-law. Now, the Chinese manufacturer says the video has sent orders from the U.S. skyrocketing. Huang Yichang reports from Wuxi, a city located in northwest of Shanghai.


Many outdoor enthusiasts in the U.S. dream of having a pickup truck, preferably a convertible option.


"Oh, it's a motor trikes."


"Oh, my god."


This man recently saw his dream come true, but with a twist – a three-wheeled electric version exclusively imported from China.


From its novel appearance to the sounds it produces, this quirky, yet practical, vehicle was soon turning heads.


Others are eager for a chance to take it for a spin.


"What are the Chinese characters here?"


The words are pronounced as "Guowei," the brand name of the vehicle. To learn more about the tricycle that made its way to the U.S., I travelled to its factory base in Wuxi, northwest of Shanghai.


It is the same as any other Chinese city – you barely have any tricycles running on the streets. Enter the city's manufacturing hub, – among hundreds of e-bike makers in the area. we find Guowei, the only company that makes electric trikes.


"Look behind me. It's a big warehouse full of trikes."


A humble assembly line and a dozen workers. With the Chinese New Year just around the corner, many factories have gone on holiday, but here the staff is still on duty.


QING XIAOMIN Manager, Guowei Motorcycle "Due to the unexpected 'advertisement' from the vlogger in the United States, our orders are increasing, especially from the United States where we didn't have any orders before. From January until now, we've already sold five to six hundred units there. This is good news, but we must strictly maintain the quality of our products. Okay?"


"Okay."


These workers are so skilled that they take just a few minutes to assemble a vehicle. But it seems they aren't used to dealing with the media attention.


"Do you know about the latest craze?"


For the company owner, the excitement is only natural, and far beyond his expectations.


NI XIAOFENG Chairman, Guowei Motorcycle "By chance, the goddess of luck has smiled upon you. They are selling Teslas in China. Do they still need our 'three bumps'?"


The manager told us that in the past, 20 percent of the electric trikes made here were exported, mainly to developing countries in Southeast Asia, South America, and the Middle East.


Few of them ended up in Europe and the U.S.


"Dealers from several regions want to place orders. We would like to deliver thirty to fifty units at once."


Sensing a business opportunity, some U.S. residents have flown to Wuxi for potential collaboration.


JASON LI U.S.-based Businessman "American people think these E-tricycles are cool. Americans love to embrace novelty, and it suits our seniors as well. For example, on American farms, we used four-wheeled agricultural vehicles. But the tricycle is much more affordable.


Ni Xiaofeng: But through the Amazon platform, it's challenging for us to achieve real-time shipping because the item is too bulky, and the cost at overseas warehouses is too high."


The orders from the U.S. recently are all via an e-shopping platform, which is evidently not a long-term solution for expansion in the U.S. market.


"It takes about 900 U.S. dollars for shipping."


The shipping cost is huge, considering the trike itself costs less than 600 U.S. dollars.


JASON YANG U.S.-based Businessman "The number 1 selling vehicle is the FORD F150. Every man wants his first truck to be a pickup truck so that he can do whatever he wants to with it – customize it, run it off-road. The truck, in China, however, seems like a thing just for farmers. But in the United States, it's a culture."


Tricycle transportation also part of Chinese urban culture not too many years ago when the vehicles were affectionately referred to as the "three bumps." They were a common sight on streets and alleys throughout the country. However, various concerns later saw them banned from major roads in many cities.


Nevertheless, in certain scenarios, these wheels are still contributing to urban life – such as neighborhood delivery services, street food stalls and various other applications you can imagine.


But in rural areas, it's a common sight as almost every family owns one. The flexibility it offers for carrying stuff makes it irreplaceable.


"It's easy to load all my camera equipment on the back of the vehicle."


Almost anyone can learn to drive one in seconds.


"It's just like riding an electric scooter, super straightforward, just grab the handlebars and twist them backwards to go."


Not only does the electric trike accelerate quickly, but the speed can reach 45 kilometres per hour. And getting around in a warehouse is easy.


"The idea of these vehicles taking over the streets of U.S. and Europe, not just as a 'toy', is quite exciting. But there's a long way ahead."


in the American markets. Vehicles must obtain certification to meet the standards required for street use.


CHEN CHUNCHAO Certification Technical Service Engineer "For entering the U.S. with motor vehicles, DoT certification is mandatory. However, if it is intended for use as 'toys' – used within one's own property or off-road, it can be considered a non-motor vehicle."


PU MIN Head, European Representative Office Wuxi Xishan Electric Vehicle Foreign Trade Association "The quality and technology of our electric tricycles should reach a new level so as to meet the requirements of these two certifications."


Besides Guowei, there are thousands of tricycle manufacturers across China; tricycles enterprises find themselves compelled to transform.


"As the domestic tricycle market has shifted from an expanding market to a stable one. In this fiercely competitive environment, we have no choice but to embrace overseas markets to survive."


Reporter: Do you think this vehicle can truly become a common sight on the streets of America?


"I think the manufacturer should change the reverse warning sound to English."


Maybe, the vehicle's popularity isn't just about technological advancement, but the increasing cultural recognition of the global community toward China.


"I feel there's a significant market potential in the US. What's lacking between us is communication."


The impact of the "three bumps" on the U.S. market remains uncertain. But the unexpected exchange between the two cultures has led some to believe that increased communication can make a difference – sparking new connections and benefiting people on both sides. Huang Yichang, CGTN.

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