RTE to open new factories in 2022 in Portugal and Poland
SERZEDO, Portugal – 2022 will start with popping the champagne corks at RTE S.A. Europe’s largest bicycle manufacturer will start production in Poland in January while later in the year the e-bike production facility in Portugal will be opened officially. During a company visit, Bike Europe learned about RTE’s e-bike ambitions.
n the Bike Europe reports on the Portuguese bicycle industry, we highlight today bicycle and e-bike manufacturer RTE S.A. Both in Portugal and Poland, RTE operates dedicated bicycle and e-bike production for the world’s leading sporting goods chain Decathlon in Europe.
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All new chapter starts for RTE
According to RTE board member Bruno Salgado, the successful OEM-partnership between his company and the French giant has entered its 22nd year. With the opening of a second factory in Serzedo, Portugal, which will be dedicated to e-bike production, an all-new chapter starts for the company. In addition to OEM-production for others than Decathlon, the company’s own young e-bike D2C-brand Beeq will also be made here. The brand was launched already four years ago and distribution started in mid-2020 but exclusively for the Portuguese home market. Beeq is now being taken to the international market as well.
Newly built e-bike production line
Until now, Beeq was built in one separate purpose-built production line in the old RTE factory. At the moment two production lines work in two shifts. The new facility also comes with a showroom, although both the showroom and the factory had not been finished during Bike Europe’s visit in early November but will be ready at the beginning of 2022.
“For us, having our own e-bike brand is a very big step,” emphasises RTE E-Bike Business Director José Ramos. “It’s the first time we are in close contact with the consumer ourselves. We are convinced it’s time for us as a manufacturer to get direct feedback about the consumer’s experience. That will take us further.”
According to Salgado only 5% of the new factory’s total capacity will be used for RTE’s private label Beeq. Some 120,000 units are expected to come off the lines in the first year after the opening. “We already have four European customers for whom we will produce e-bikes in 2022.” The production facility is designed to be able to ramp up to an annual production capacity of 250,000 units. “Let’s see what happens in 2023 and 2024,” notes Salgado.
Unlike RTE’s production for Decathlon, which also uses entry-level steel frames, the Portuguese source aluminum frames for the e-bike factory in the Far East. They are painted in the paint-shop facility of the old RTE factory. “That’s where we rely on synergies between the two locations,” says Salgado.
Product upgrade with premium components
“Our Beeq e-bikes rely on components from premium brand suppliers across the board. For the motors we specify Brose, Shimano and Bafang. Otherwise, well-known brands such as Conti, Ergon, Hebie, Satori, Selle Royal and SKS, have been selected,” says Salgado. Salgado and Ramos explain they target the Central European market for the market introduction of their e-bike production, including the company’s own Beeq brand: “E-bikes have not played a role in Portugal to date. Even though that is going to change in the future, our home market is still small. Generally about 95% of our production is exported. We are also convinced that once we are successful in Central Europe it will open doors for us on the global market.”
New directions with network partnerships
Beeq’s sales prices range from €1,500 to €4,000. So far, these e-bikes have been sold exclusively via the website http://www.beeq-bicycles.com. For the future the company aims to build a network of partners in each Central European country. They should take care of service, including after-sales service. According to Salgado, RTE does not want to go down conventional paths, but find new ones. They are just starting a collaboration with the virtual bike rental booking platform ListNRide and mobile bike service provider Get Bike Service as Beeq partners.
The e-bike production line was not operational during Bike Europe’s visit but that had less to do with the impending move than a more mundane reason. “The delivery problems have a huge impact on our current e-bike production,” states Salgado. “We can’t assembly any e-bike because certain parts are missing.” This problem will probably continue to keep RTE busy for a long time, unfortunately. Nevertheless, the RTE team is full of confidence about the future. Today the company employs more than 800 people in Portugal alone and the new e-bike factory will provide jobs for another 200 in the year to come. After all bicycles and e-bikes as well as close-to-the market production are currently a hot topic.