Sat, Apr 13, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Companies see uncertain future for green vehicles

NOT INTERCHANGEABLE:Battery exchange stations are being built, but there is no standard specification for batteries and this may prove to be a stumbling block

By Camaron Kao  /  Staff reporter

The government aims to invest more resources in the nation’s electric vehicle industry, but industry representatives yesterday said at a forum that they are still worried about the prospects of green vehicles.

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in December last year approved subsidies for City Power Taiwan Co Ltd (台灣城市動力) and Kentfa Advanced Technology Corp (見發先進科技) to establish 30 battery exchange stations in the north and south of the nation this year.

When the exchange stations are established, users of electric vehicles would be able to get fully-charged batteries immediately without the need to wait two hours to recharge their batteries.

However, Yang Miin-tsong (楊敏聰), chairman of Phoenix Silicon International Corp (昇揚國際半導體), which produces wafers and batteries for electric vehicles, said companies making different electric vehicles may not be willing to exchange battery technology with each other.

“Do you think Benz will be willing to exchange its battery technology with Nissan?” Yang asked at the forum in Taipei yesterday.

Experts have said the government should increase subsidies for the vehicle makers to help reduce costs, as price remains the main concern of potential electric car buyers.

Kwang Yang Motor Co Ltd (光陽機車) general manager Yen Wen-his (嚴文熙) said customers are willing to purchase the company’s KYMCO brand scooters for between NT$70,000 and NT$90,000, but they are only willing to spend NT$30,000 (US$1,000) on an electric vehicle.

The company has no plans to market electric vehicles at such prices, Yen said.

Furthermore, Yen said there is no standardized specification for lithium batteries and so far no other company has adopted the battery developed by Kwang Yang. Different batteries may need different infrastructure to support them, he said.

Yen said the reason his company is developing electric vehicles is because it believes there will be a different form of motorcycle in the future and it has to prepare for that. However, KYMCO still counts on its gasoline-powered scooters for its profits, Yen said.

According to government data, the nation’s annual output of electric vehicles is forecast to reach 60,000 units by 2016, with an annual production value of more than NT$120 billion.

However, local manufacturers need to increase their focus on the production of batteries and motors, rather than other components for such vehicles, Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said earlier this week.

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