Public-private partnership key to smart EV project
Imagine that all motorcycles on Taipei streets become electric, and all motorcyclists can easily get a fully charged battery to keep them going in a few minutes — sounds unrealistic to you? This fantasy-like scenario may actually come true much faster than expected. A Taiwanese startup announced Wednesday plans for a batteryswapping station network for its electric scooters in a bid to build smart vehicles for cities. Starting next month, users of the Gogoro Smartscooter will be able to use one of the 32 battery-swap stations at gas stations and parking lots set up in Taipei and New Taipei for an eco-friendly ride. This number is expected to increase to over 70 by the end of July and to 150 by the end of this year, according to the company. This may sound like a promising start for the local electric motorcycle market, but we believe that this ambitions project will need further support from local and national authorities to help leverage Taiwan’s electric vehicles and battery sector. If we look at this topic any more deeply, however, why not try to develop a YouElectricBike or YouElectricMotorcyle scheme based on Taipei’s bicycle renting program? These are some arguments in favor of such green policy initiative for our Taipei mayor and presidential candidates.
First and foremost, Taiwan already has a well-developed information and communications technology sector that has led local companies to play a growing role in the booming electric vehicle (EV) industry. According to the Industrial Development Bureau under the Ministry of Economic Affairs ( ), Taiwan is a major exporter of electric vehicles and their components to the U.S., the UK, France, Australia, Denmark and others. Most people don’t know, however, that buyers from around the world come to Taiwan each year to look for EV products and suppliers at the annual EV Taiwan ( ) trade show. In addition to the good reputation of Made-in-Taiwan (MIT) products, Taiwan manufacturers offer innovative products at an affordable price, as well as great flexibility in terms of order amounts. With these observations in mind, any public policy aimed at boosting the local EV market could further encourage local companies to develop new products.
Another advantage of doing business here is the huge variety and wide range of products developed by local companies. Taiwan has long been a pioneer in the automobile parts industry and local firms already have a very steady and reliable footing in the EV sector. Yet these companies aren’t satisfied with their achievements for all that; they are continuing to invest in research and development (R&D) in order to stay ahead in the competition and lead into the future. Today, advanced EV components are already exported to industry leaders like GM, Toyota and Tesla, giving companies the opportunity to position themselves in new markets, including charging stations for electric vehicles. Aside from quality control, flexibility, diverse choices of components and R&D, Taiwanese corporations also care about practical and innovative designs, just like the design of the Gogoro scooter, which looks fresh and smart.
So, what is next? The next challenge to develop such EV projects in Taiwan will be effective cooperation between the private and public sectors, as well as incentives for citizens to be as smart as possible. Local and national authorities will need to further participate in pushing for awareness campaigns that contain real smart policies for citizens being as smart as possible. So far, there are too few incentives for encouraging the use of electric vehicles and Taiwan will need more political will, laws, political decisions, collaboration, engagement and a lot of other things. Except for that, Taiwan companies already have the relevant technology to develop cities that are smarter.