Folding bicycles by a bike design company based in Kagawa Prefecture are becoming popular overseas. Even though the company’s founder and president had no initial intention to sell his products abroad, half of the current annual sales are earned from international sales.
Tyrell bikes, the brand of folding bicycles by Ive emotion Co., are becoming popular in Asia. “We had no leeway to promote sales overseas,” admitted Masahito Hirose, who studied environmental design at a graduate school of Chiba University. But in 2008, Ive emotion Co. began selling the folding bikes overseas. The first foreign market was Hong Kong. “We succeeded in the business because now is the Internet age when companies [overseas] can easily obtain information [on Japanese products],” said the 55-year old company president.
“Since bicycles are common throughout the world, [trade] barriers overseas are small. That is also another factor behind our success,” Hirose shared. Ive emotion also exports bikes to Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia. The current annual sales is about 150 million, with half of it earned from export sales. The company is also aiming to bring Tyrell folding bikes to Indonesia, which may begin late this year once the folding bicycles pass the safety standards. “In the future, we want to set up a representative office overseas,” said Hirose.
There are six types of Tyrell bicycles, which are manufactured by seven workers in a factory in a residential area with rice fields in Kanagawa. Prices range from 200,000 yen to 560,000 yen (approx. US$2,000-$5,700), with the most expensive using titanous frames. Tyrell bikes can be folded twice – near the front and rear wheels – unlike other manufacturers’ bikes, which can only be folded once.
[via Asahi Shimbun]
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