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Experts laud EV development

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- With solid electricity infrastructure and a robust information and communications industry (ICT), Taiwan is an ideal venue for developing electric vehicles (EVs) and their key components, said participants of the 2009 Taiwan Automotive International Forum and Exhibition (TAIFE) on its opening day.

The two-day forum, organized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and executed by the Taiwan Automotive Research Consortium (TARC), kicked off yesterday, this year placing a special focus on electric vehicles, given an increasing awareness of environmental issues in Taiwan as well as in countries throughout the world. EV experts representing local and overseas companies, universities and research institutions all gathered at National Taiwan University Hospital's International Convention Center, where the event is held, to share their insights into green vehicles of the future.

Taiwan's Strengths

In his opening address, Minister of Economic Affairs Yiin Chii-ming mentioned the government has always placed a strong focus on the island's automotive industry, which has over the years become an important part of the global supply chain.

In fact, he said a desire to upgrade the nation's automotive industry was what prompted the government to help form TARC, a consortium made up of the Mechanical and System Research Laboratories of Industrial Technology Research Institute (MSL/ITRI), the Automotive Research & Testing Center, the Metal Industries Research & Development Centre, Chung-Shun Institute of Science & Technology, and Hua-Chuang Automobile Information Technical Center Co., Ltd.

He went on to mention a move towards manufacturing green vehicles, such as EVs, that use less energy and emit less greenhouse gases. He emphasized Taiwan has a lot to contribute in this area.

"Taiwan has a warm climate, high population density, and comprehensive electric power infrastructure," he said. "It also boasts a formidable electronics industry, providing an excellent base for the development of EVs."

Huang Lung-chou, chairman of TARC, echoed Yiin's remarks, saying a focus on carbon emissions reduction and clean energy has driven the nation to explore new automotive technologies.

Having already developed capabilities in making e-scooters and e-bikes, Taiwan can become "the best partner" of global EV makers to develop quality, powerful green vehicles, he noted.

Development Strategies

The forum this year concentrates on two topics: "EV Value Chain Strategy Proposition" and "EV Key-Module Industrial-Cluster Development Strategy."

James Wang, deputy general director of the Mechanical and Systems Research Laboratories of ITRI, spoke in the day's first session and discussed Taiwan's EV developmental strategy.

He said EV development has already been listed as part of the government's overall energy policy guidelines, which intend to reduce the island's carbon emissions to the level of 2008 between 2016 and 2020, and the level of 2000 by the year 2025.

In fact, Wang said Taiwan has already developed a complete EV supply chain, with manufacturers focusing on all aspects of the industry.

For OEM/vehicle manufacturing, there are SYM and PGO; for propulsion systems, there are Fukuta Motor and Taiwan DC Motor; and for lithium batteries, there are E-One and HiTech, he said.

As now EVs are at a relatively early stage, more work needs to be done to develop and popularize them, Wang said. He divided Taiwan's EV development into three stages: technological development, testing of standards, and infrastructure building and promotion.

Another key to successful EV development is collaboration between government, research institutes, the industry and the academia, he said. International collaboration is also needed to build on the experience of overseas nations, he added.

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