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Automotive lunch with the IDB

The ECCT's Automotive committee hosted a lunch on the topic "Strategies and practices for the electric vehicle and smart machinery industries" featuring guest speaker Leu Jang-hwa, Acting Director-General of the Industrial Development Bureau (IDB), under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA).

In his speech, the speaker said that the government is promoting the "intelligentisation" of electric vehicles (EVs) to achieve three overlapping goals of enhancing environmental protection, traffic safety and economic development. The main goals of the MoEA are to drive the development of the parts and components industry, foster new business models, introduce universal batteries and components, to improve the industry's economies of scale and improve design and intelligentisation abilities of e-scooter companies to improve their global competitiveness. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications' (MoTC) goal is to assure the safety of riders and pedestrians and improve traffic conditions by making use of cloud computing and big data. The goal of the Environmental Protection Administration's (EPA) is to reduce carbon emissions, particularly PM2.5 emissions.

Taiwan already plays an important role in the global EV supply chain. Leu listed several companies providing parts and components to companies like Tesla. In addition, Taiwan is working on raising energy efficiency by developing various types of EVs, including buses, cars and scooters.

The technology and systems pioneered by Taiwan's Gogoro is a good example of a user-centred urban traffic information platform which works by connecting sensors on EVs using cloud and big data technologies, thereby providing riders with instant information (such as the status of batteries, safety and maintenance information). The platform can also be used to collect data on traffic and road conditions as well as push targeted notification information and adverts to riders.

Gogoro has partnered with Coup (a subsidiary of Bosch) in Germany to build a platform for a public e-scooter rental service. Four rental points and 200 Gogoro e-scooters are now available in Berlin and there are plans to launch similar programmes in other cities in Europe.

Taiwan has collaborated with international standard organizations to promote its national EV standards, making EV products ready for export. Five systems and 54 national standards have been set. These include nine for EV safety, performance and interoperability, nine for batteries, seven for charging stations and chargers, six for motors and controllers and 23 for environmental tests.

Eight e-scooter manufacturers have achieved Taiwan E-Scooter Standard (TES) certification from the MOEA and there are 41 models of e-scooters available in Taiwan. While the number of e-scooters in Taiwan has increased from 27 in 2009 to 63,375 in 2016, they still make up only a fraction of the estimated 14 million vehicles on the roads.

So far 10 pilot projects aimed at finding the best EV business models have been conducted in Taiwan, incorporating 489 EVs and 791 charging stations. Leu mentioned some examples which include electric buses to transport staff at high tech firms and e-shuttle buses in the Alishan National park in central Taiwan.

The development and promotion of the smart machinery industry in Taiwan is another of the government's objectives. In this regard, the smart machinery industry promotion project was set up and a taskforce office was established on 7 February this year. The project aims to create system integration (SI) solutions and pilot fields for industrial applications; set up application centres in northern, central and southern Taiwan to foster talent for smart manufacturing and machinery and interdisciplinary cooperation in industry.

The government is setting up a global smart machinery development centre in Taichung, slated to be ready by the first quarter of 2019. In addition, the Taichung city government has invited 28 colleges, 21 of which are from central Taiwan, to establish a "smart college alliance" together with industry to support the development of talent. Through industry-academia cooperation, the government provides a talent recruitment and cultivation platform for smart machinery across industries while training students. Under the programme, each college works with at least two firms to organize courses together while each firm provides scholarship programmes. IDB has completed reviewing the submitted projects for 2017, 16 of which have been approved to train 284 students.

Besides these initiatives, the government has set up an Industry 4.0 centre (in northern Taiwan), a smart machinery talent training centre (in central Taiwan), an advanced manufacturing research centre (in southern Taiwan) and a 3D printing and training centre, also in southern Taiwan. In addition, the government is facilitating the promotion of smart machinery through international exhibitions.

Leu concluded that government's goals are upgrading, transforming and innovating industry. In so doing, their aim is to generate technological, economic, social and other benefits.