On 17th October 2021, the Industry ministry of Bangladesh gave their word of consent to IFAD motors to begin production of higher cc motorcycles locally. The government of Bangladesh is finally lifting the 165cc cap on motorbike engines and is looking to amend their import policy draft; which was proposed by Ifad Motors. The industry ministry has given IFAD motors permission to manufacture bikes up to 500cc and will start production in the Bangandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar at Mirsarai, Chittagong where it’s currently setting up production of Royal Enfield 350cc bikes and other bigger engine counterparts.
The industry ministry proposed to the commerce ministry to amend the draft for the 2021-2024 Import policy order to import raw materials for local and with the help of Ifad Motors manufacturing, the ministry finally approved to remove the 165cc cap and will be making bikes upto 500cc available to the local market.
Before the policy draft amendment, the policy allowed production of bikes with higher capacity than 165cc locally which could only be exported; where Runner manufacturing plant was already producing higher cc bikes which were mainly exported to Nepal.
While the car scene of Bangladesh has seen a gradual improvement over the years. Despite the sky high taxes, more and more manufacturers from Europe, China and even America are entering into the market. However, the same cannot be said for the bike industry though.
Although the bike industry has come a long way with more new manufacturers entering the market every year, the 165cc cap has still kept many top end brands from even entering the market.
KTM, one of the leading motorcycle manufacturers in the world and the largest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe, was officially brought to the country by Runner Automobiles Ltd. back in 2020. The manufacturer is only able to sell variants of their two entry models due to the country’s cc limit restrictions. The same is true for the Kawasaki and a few other bike manufacturers. This is not only holding down the development of an improved bike scene in the country but also the growth of an industry which has the potential to grow by over threefold if the 165cc cap is taken off!
In a meeting held on 28th September of 2021 between government officials and motorcycle industry representatives, the Bangladesh Motorcycle Assemblers and Manufacturers Association opposed the idea of allowing higher engine capacity bikes on roads before September 2023. This isn’t the first time members of the association have opposed the policy. They fear that sales of lower displacement bikes will fall dramatically if the displacement restrictions are easened this early before the date planned.
The Tariff Commission representative on the other hand believes that it will not be possible to ensure development of the motorcycle industry and it will obstruct both local and foreign investments if the cc restrictions aren’t relaxed.
Since early 2000, Bangladesh Road Transportation Authority (BRTA) has stopped giving registration to higher displacement motorbikes amid the government’s policy to ban higher cc bikes. The policy was taken as per the concerns of the law enforcement agencies who feared that it would be impossible for cops to pursue the lawbreakers if there’s no restrictions on the engine displacement of motorbikes.
With the significant growth of the motorcycle industry in the last ten years, government officials have finally started to realise the true potential the bike industry holds in a developing country like Bangladesh. Studies and research reveals that the current market, which sold around 6 lakh motorcycles in the fiscal year 2020-2021, has the potential to sell over 20 lakh bikes if the government takes appropriate measures to facilitate manufacturing, sales and purchase of motorbikes as the primary source of commuting in the country.