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The bill seeks to create a set of financial incentives to encourage brands to begin or expand manufacturing on U.S. soil.

Should We Embrace the Domestic Bicycle Production Act?

A new bill seeks to foster growth in domestic production of e-bikes. Earl Blumenauer, democratic representative from Oregon has introduced legislation meant to encourage manufacturing and assembly of both bikes and e-bikes. Blumenauer is founder and co-chair of the Congressional Bike Caucus and is one of the most vocal supporters of cycling in Congress.

The Domestic Bicycle Production Act seeks to flatten the investment necessary for manufacturers to produce bikes and e-bikes on U.S. soil.

Three parts compose the bill. The first part would suspend tariffs on components for 10 years. By reducing the cost to import components like brakes, handlebars, derailleurs and wheels, it should encourage domestic bicycle assembly. The second part creates a domestic, transferrable e-bike production tax credit, which would create a financial incentive for companies to produce e-bikes domestically. The third part would create what is being called the U.S. Bicycle and E-Bicycle Manufacturing Initiative which would make low-interest, 12-year loans for companies to set up or expand manufacturing in the U.S. by buying capital equipment.

The first part, which would suspend tariffs, doesn’t seem like much on paper, but it’s a big deal as a set of tariffs that were suspended during the pandemic are now going to hit imported bikes and e-bikes beginning in July. Some of the products that were part of the Section 301 exclusion carry a 25 percent tariff.

The second part, because it focuses exclusively on e-bikes, will create a real incentive for manufacturers to begin domestic production of motors and batteries. The domestic production of components such as brakes and drivetrains still seems a stretch.

The third part, which offers low-interest loans over a 12-year term, would make purchasing the sorts of tools necessary to produce bikes and e-bikes within the realm of many small businesses that struggle to expand due to a lack of capital or sufficient credit.

As anyone who has ever followed a piece of legislation knows, there is a big difference between introducing a bill and seeing a law passed. Many are shot down and never make it out of committee. Some receive significant rewriting and/or see other sorts of unrelated legislation tacked on that can help to scuttle a bill.

Another challenge this bill faces is that Blumenauer announced that he will not seek reelection this year. Without him around to shepherd the bill through Congress before handing it off to the Senate, it may struggle to advance, unless he can get it to President Biden’s desk before November.

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