Public-pri­vate part­ner­ship key to smart EV pro­ject

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

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.

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