Motorcycles and transportation in Taiwan

Filipinos use motorbikes to go out of town, something that Taiwanese riders don’t do.

One thing tourists would definitely notice when they visit Taiwan is the huge number of motorcycles. In fact, the scooter waterfall on Taipei Bridge has become such an overwhelming and famous theme that people can easily find photos of it on social media.

As of October 2022, there are 14.38 million motorcycles and 8.43 million cars registered in Taiwan. The population in Taiwan is only 23.19 million. That is, about 62 percent of Taiwanese own a scooter, much higher than most countries in the world.

The reasons why there are so many scooters in Taiwan are mainly because the population density is high and the cost of motorcycles is relatively low, and it is convenient to ride a scooter in the streets in summer when it’s hot and humid outside and it feels like the sun is killing you that you don’t want to leave the air-conditioned room for even one minute.

One of my classmates once said that when he goes back home, he always rides a scooter to the 7-ELEVEN to buy drinks even if it only takes him five minutes to walk there. It is no exaggeration to say that most Taiwanese cannot live without motorcycles.

I came to Manila in February 2019. Over the years, the number of scooters here has increased rapidly especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.

While motorcycles are the most used vehicle in Taiwan, it’s actually less common for Taiwanese to travel around the island by scooters. It came as a surprise to me when I saw motorcycle groups going out of town on the weekend in the Philippines because it is quite rare for Taiwanese to do that.

Taiwan is a smaller island compared to the Philippines and the railway system is more developed. Instead of riding motorcycles or driving a car, most Taiwanese will take the train or the high speed rail to travel. When people arrive in the city they want to visit by railway, it’s easy to rent cars, scooters or bicycles so it would be convenient for tourists to move around.

For tourists who don’t want to rent, they can also choose freight train to deliver their scooters to specific stations and pick them up there so that tourists can ride their motorcycles after they arrive in the destinations by train to avoid the hassle of traffic.

I have traveled in the Philippines by plane, by bus, by car and also went out of town with friends by scooters. While it’s a lot of fun traveling by motorcycle, there is no denying it is quite tiring to ride a scooter for three to four hours especially when there’s heavy traffic coming back to Manila.

Nowadays, electric scooters are more commonly used in Taiwan and the Philippines. The 2022 G20 Bali summit just wrapped up in Indonesia on 16 November. One of the features during the summit is the use of electric cars and motorcycles.

Two Taiwanese companies, Hon Hai Precision (Foxconn) and Gogoro, were promoting their electric buses and motorcycles during the G20. Gogoro worked with the GoTo group and the Electrum company was one of the official vehicle providers of the summit and provided electric scooters for transportation of attendees and reporters.

On the other hand, the Model T electric buses developed by Hon Hai, the assembler of most of the world’s iPhones, were also used by the Indonesia government to meet the transportation needs of the G20 attendees.

Hon Hai also works with the Public Investment Fund, sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, to set up Ceer, an electric car joint venture.

According to the PIF, Ceer will produce electric vehicles in Saudi Arabia and will design, manufacture and sell a range of vehicles, including sedans and sports utility vehicles, for consumers in that country, the Middle East and North Africa.

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