Industry Headlines

Taiwan Electric Car Entrants Aim to Build Ties with U.S. Automakers

TAIPEI, TAIWAN - Taiwan companies, which have supplied many of the key components used in the world’s first electric cars and are emerging as important players in this infant industry, are aiming to build closer ties with U.S. automakers during an event taking place during June 21-25.

To help build links between Taiwan and the U.S. in the electric vehicle (EV) industry, Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has organized the Taiwan Automotive International Forum and Exhibition (TAIFE) taking place in the U.S. cities of Detroit, Indianapolis and Los Angeles during June 21-25. The event will provide a unique opportunity for U.S. and Taiwan companies to build alliances.

Taiwan companies such as Chroma, Whetron and Molicel have provided key parts such as batteries, inverters and electronic systems that have been used in electric cars from BMW, Mitsubishi and Tesla. The Taiwan companies aim to combine their expertise in IT and electronics to enter the fledgling EV industry that’s expected to take off around 2015.

“EVs are a new game for everyone,” says William Chang, senior manager of corporate marketing for Chroma. “There are a lot of opportunities for Taiwan companies to support U.S. automakers.” One of the companies joining the TAIFE event, Taiwan’s Yulon Group, is preparing to launch its own electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) within the next 12 months. Most of the components for Yulon’s 100 percent electric Luxgen SUV, including information technology and other electronics systems, are also from Taiwan suppliers.

“Taiwan has excellent integration capabilities,” says Chun-Chung Lee, executive vice president of Haitec, the R&D unit of Yulon Group.

Taiwan’s production of auto electronics will be worth NT$100 billion (US$3.2 billion) in 2010 and increase to NT$300 billion by 2015, according to Taiwan’s MOEA. The main products include telematics systems, automobile lights, light-emitting diode (LED) headlights, reverse parking systems and tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). Taiwanese companies also have huge potential in airbags, car alert systems, keyless entry, engine lock chips, navigation systems and infotainment systems.

Taiwan has many companies entering the electric car industry. E-One Moli Energy Corp., supplied the lithium-ion batteries used in BMW`s MiniE electric car. Fukuta Elec. & Mach. Co. supplies electric motors for the Tesla Roadster, BMW`s MiniE and the Luxgen electric car.

Production of electric vehicles is predicted to soar in the next few years. Approximately 1 million EVs are expected on the road in the U.S. by 2015 with five times that many expected by 2020, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a U.S.-based research group.

Markets in Asia and Europe are expected to grow at a similar pace. Billions of dollars are being invested globally to develop and promote electric vehicle technology, including almost US$3 billion from the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

Earlier this year, Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) signed a letter of intent with Taiwan’s globally renowned Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) to develop testing technology and specifications for power systems in electric vehicles. UL and ITRI also aim to develop safety tests for long-term aging of lithium batteries and solar power generation systems.

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