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Taiwan stakes its claim to slice of EV pie

Although Tesla in electric vehicle driver's seat, Taiwan will continue to be important player

Life in the fast lane: A Rimac Nevera electric car.

Life in the fast lane: A Rimac Nevera electric car. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Massive stimulus measures in the United States, EU subsidies, and cash savings stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic could provide the “perfect point” for electric vehicle (EV) sales to take off, an online forum on tech-driven mobility heard Tuesday (Aug. 10).

The Asia Venturing webinar hosted by Anchor Taiwan and DIGITIMES featured guest speakers Jack Cheng (鄭顯聰), CEO at MIH Consortium and former NIO co-founder; Monika Mikac, CBO at QEV Technologies and former COO at Rimac; and Vitaly Golomb, a partner at the global investment firm Drake Star; with an introduction from DIGITIMES Vice President Eric Huang (黃逸平). It was simultaneously hosted in Taipei, Croatia, and California.

Maturing technologies, government backing, and popular support for greener transport solutions make the switch from combustion engines to electric a matter of when rather than if, the speakers said. This transformation could happen long before 2035, which is when many markets plan to phase out fossil fuels.

Taiwan stakes its claim to slice of EV pie
Eric Huang gives opening remarks at Asia Venturing webinar. (Taiwan News screenshot)

Mikac said combustion car sales have dried up because of the pandemic. Pent-up demand and cash lying around could provide the "perfect point for a shift to happen” and see people switching to electric cars.

She said this switch had already happened in countries like Norway, where 60% of new cars sold are EVs. EU subsidies would further accelerate this process in Europe.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s contribution to the EV revolution is already significant, but a lot of the work is under the bonnet, providing parts rather than taking center stage as a brand.

This follows the pattern of being an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for companies like Apple or chip designers like Qualcomm. Taiwan does the hard work, and someone else takes much of the profit and most of the credit.

Taiwan stakes its claim to slice of EV pie
MIH Consortium CEO Jack Cheng speaks at webinar. (Taiwan News screenshot)

MIH Consortium, which is backed by Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group (though it insists it is "neutral, open, and independent"), is intended to ensure that Taiwan continues to take a slice of the EV pie.

Conceived as the "Android of EVs," MIH's mission is to provide a platform for open standards and create a locus for EV developers. After announcing MIH in March, more than 1,600 partner companies joined up.

MIH's Jack Cheng said he believes that while Tesla is now in the driver's seat when it comes to EVs, "Nobody will take the whole pie. We are all competing with each other, and there will be more conglomerates to come and compete with Tesla."

He suggested the future of EV development will have a collaborative or hub-and-spoke model. "It's like fighting the virus, we all have to work together for total solutions."

Underlining the essential attraction of EVs, Cheng said that one out of three test drives of an EV produced a customer. This is an exceptional conversion rate and one "you don't go back" from.

QEV's Mikac said: "If you drive an EV, you love it. You love the sound, or lack of it, and the acceleration. More and more people want electric cars. At this point, it’s just who can afford them."

Both Cheng and Mikac highlighted the idea that EVs are not just a means to get from A to B, they are "smart mobility solutions." This includes self-driving EVs and public transport such as e-buses. Also, just like in the early days of mobile phones, EVs could provide services and functions that haven't even been conceived of yet.

Taiwan stakes its claim to slice of EV pie
Taiwan stakes its claim to slice of EV pie
(Taiwan News screenshot)

Updated : 2021-10-24 23:32 GMT+08:00