Sat, Jun 02, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan could crack EV market in years

PC INDUSTRY LEGACY:The small and medium-sized suppliers that make up the bulk of the supply chain make for a very flexible chain, a former Tesla Inc employee said

Staff writer, with CNA

With its well-established supply chain and strength in electronics, Taiwan could be able to crack the global automotive market in several years rather than the decades some industry analysts have forecast, thanks to the emergence of electric vehicles (EVs), according to EE Times, a US-based online electronics industry magazine.

Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) was upbeat when EE Times cited him in its article, “Go to Taiwan for EVs? Well, Tesla did,” published on Thursday, saying: “With electronics at its heart, EVs should play to our strengths.”

Taiwan Telematics Industry Association (台灣車聯網產業協會) secretary-general Paul Chou (周宗保) was quoted as saying that in the days of combustion engines, it might have taken 50 years to build an automotive industry.

“But with EV, we think we can pull it off in less than five years here in Taiwan,” Chou said.

The EV industry in Taiwan began when US electric car maker Tesla Inc started sourcing components for its first commercial vehicle, the Tesla Roadster, the report said.

Azizi Tucker, a former Tesla employee who is now chief technology officer at Xing Mobility (行競科技), an electric vehicle powertrain systems company founded in Taipei in 2015, was a senior development engineer sent to Taiwan with the task of “ensuring suppliers could manufacture the parts Tesla needed,” Tucker told EE Times.

“A large portion of my time was spent in Taiwan, in part helping get the Tesla motor factory up and running in [New Taipei City’s] Linkou [District] (林口),” he said, adding that by assembling cars in Taiwan, Tesla consequently built an extensive local supply chain.

“The small and medium-sized family-owned suppliers that make up the bulk of the Taiwan supply chain make for a very flexible supply chain. This is something not present in China, Thailand or Japan,” Tucker said.

“For the EV [powertrain business], this flexibility is critically important. We are developing new technologies and will need to adapt existing manufacturing processes to make new components and assemblies,” Tucker said, adding that this is the primary reason he thinks Taiwan is a good choice to start an EV company.

Taiwan’s EV industry is supported by numerous small and medium-sized automotive parts manufacturers, many of which are striving to navigate upstream as preferred partners to major brands and original equipment manufacturers.

“These suppliers make everything from lighting technology and heads-up displays to suspension systems, pressure detectors, brake systems, wheels and engine parts,” EE Times said.

Beyond components suppliers gunning for an upstream position in the supply chain, a bigger trend that is emerging is integration, EE Times said.

The development of subsystems in a timely fashion laid the groundwork for Taiwan’s success in the PC industry and now it is applying this legacy to the automotive business, it said.

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