Portland, Minneapolis… Detroit?
The Motor City’s finances may be in shambles, but at least one industry seems to be growing: bicycles.
Fortune reports that “over the past several years, at least seven bicycle makers have set up shop in the Detroit metro area, touting sleek, artisanal models.” Steven Bock, who also models clay sculptures of cars for Ford, also hand-builds bikes in Detroit. They cost $US4000-6000 each.
That said, Detroit’s bike industry is nascent. Fortune mentions that Detroit Bikes is the largest bike manufacturer in the city (it’s mass-producing bikes, rather than hand making them). Founder Zak Pashak hopes to produce 50,000 per year, but the factory, which began selling bikes about a year ago, has only produced 1000 bikes (at a rate of roughly 10 per day right now).
But a story in Crains Detroit notes that current production is far below what Pashak predicted when he was getting the company off the ground. The plant had a goal of producing 10,000 in the first year — but so far it hasn’t come close. By comparison, Detroit’s auto industry puts out roughly 300,000 cars a year.
If Detroit does become a hub for domestic bike manufacturing, it won’t be big enough to replace what cars once were to the city. But it would be huge for the bike industry. Currently, sales in the U.S. are dominated by imports: 99 per cent of the 16.2 million bikes sold in 2013 were manufactured abroad, mostly in China and Taiwan, according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association. Pashak’s 50,000 bikes-per-year goal would roughly double the number of bikes produced domestically, making Detroit America’s bike builder.
And that, in its own way, could be a big deal for Detroit.