Electric buses could promise big returns
By Huang Chen-sheng and Wang Yi-chuan 黃振聲, 王義川
Climate change and environmental protection have become issues of great concern to governments around the world. In line with this trend, most New Southbound Policy partners, including ASEAN nations and India, are working hard to promote the electric vehicle (EV) industry, establishing supply chains and building public infrastructure for the EV sector.
With a land area of 4.46 million square kilometers and a population of more than 650 million people, the 10 ASEAN member nations form the third-largest market in the world.
In 2019, before the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, ASEAN nations produced 4.2 million vehicles and 3.6 million motorcycles, making them the world’s most promising vehicle markets.
India is a world leader in in terms of the introduction of EVs and their legislation. Under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India scheme, 30 percent of newly licensed motor vehicles and 60 percent of public transportation vehicles must be electric by 2030.
India’s cities have nearly 1.7 million buses, while 3 million are needed to meet demand. Moreover, about 100,000 buses need to be replaced every year. As 60 percent of India’s buses must be fully electric within eight years, there is clearly a huge demand for electric buses.
Taiwan’s Digital New Southbound Policy is precisely about realizing a “package technology export” business model, based on the nation’s industrial strengths in EV development. Exporting completed buses or assembling them after export might not be the best way for Taiwan to enter the New Southbound market, especially as exporters would end up having a price war with China.
Taiwan should instead combine its experience and resources in the semiconductor and information and communication technology (ICT) industries to develop battery thermal management algorithms, data analytics and failure modes for the operational data of key components in electric buses. It should focus research and development on key subsystems that are critical to electric buses and play to the strengths of Taiwanese engineers.
Meanwhile, Taiwan should make use of the supply chain management experience of its semiconductor and ICT industries, engaging the local and foreign suppliers with the highest quality-to-price ratios to begin to compete in the international electric bus market.
Taiwan’s promotion of electric buses shows that — through the professional division of labor and original equipment manufacturing — such experience applies to its expansion into the New Southbound market. To facilitate a soft landing, Taiwanese businesses should cooperate with vehicle manufacturing facilities in New Southbound countries to gain a cost advantage and facilitate passing local certifications.
Taiwanese companies should handle foreign clients’ smart in-vehicle systems, including big data management, integrated design of vehicle assembly, electrical control systems and battery technology — using local components — while their foreign partners should be responsible for vehicle assembly.
With its experience and resources in the semiconductor and ICT industries, Taiwan would enjoy an advantage against international competition in smart transportation.
By following the smart transportation plan in the government’s Digital New Southbound Policy, Taiwan could anticipate positive outcomes in New Southbound countries.
Huang Chen-sheng is chairman of Tron-e Energy Technology Corp, and Wang Yi-chuan is chief of strategy at the Taiwan Thinktank.
Translated by Eddy Chang
The original text is reprinted from 【2022-04-12/ Taipei Times】