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Taiwan steps up R&D for EV components, materials

Suppliers are taking advantage of growing EV shipments and government support to strengthen product development.

Taiwan is leveraging a comprehensive industry chain and government support to boost its electric vehicles sector. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, for instance, has been instrumental in pushing research organizations and industry leaders to form the Taiwan Electric Vehicle Industry Clusters and R&D alliances in batteries, chassis, and power and complete systems. This is to strengthen product development and cooperation among the upstream and downstream segments.

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Efforts include improving materials, components and technologies used in manufacture. For the first, makers are experimenting on new inputs for the cathode of lithium batteries to enhance performance. LiCoO2, LiMnO2, LiCoxNiyMnzO2 and LiFePO4 are the mainstream choices, with the last two mostly adopted. LiFePO4 has the longest life span and best security feature but is poor in energy density and not suitable for low temperatures. Amita Technologies Inc. said LiCoxNiyMnzO2 has a higher energy density and is more compact, making it suitable for EVs. To ensure the stability of this chemistry, Amita and some companies add self-terminated oligomers with hyperbranched architecture, developed by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute. The measure prevents battery explosion during car accidents.

For motors, enterprises said induction types are a better choice for EVs than magnet variants as the former do not contain rare-earth metals. This is because the magnetic field created by the latter category could be weakened by heat. In addition, magnet kinds are in short supply and cost high.

Copper rotors are used in induction motors. They enhance efficiency, and reduce weight and size. Fukuta Elec. & Mach. Co. Ltd has developed a vacuum die casting technology, and is working on innovating design and production techniques for the component. It is targeting to roll out units with a compact size, light weight and high power density, which are the major requirements of EVs.

In terms of cell choices for battery packs, makers employ either small- or large-cell solutions. The former lowers the cost of cells and enables better heat dissipation with high usage security. Tesla and BMW are among the adopters. The latter option offers fewer PCBs, and elevated reliability and efficiency. Security testing, however, is still ongoing.

All these undertakings are in preparation for the projected growth in EV shipments in the years ahead. Worldwide car sales volume, including gasoline models, HEVs, plug-in HEVs and BEVs, will reach 100 million units by 2020, according to Frost & Sullivan.

Taiwan suppliers are confident of capturing a large market share through strong R&D and production capability in materials, components, modules, subsystems and systemsintegration. They offer battery anode and cathode inputs, isolation membranes and electrolyte fluid. There are also sources for magnetic steel sheets and strips, and enameled wire used in motors. As for components and modules, the range includes battery cells and modules, motors, controllers of power electronic systems, and harness and reduction gears. In system manufacturing and integration, enterprises provide battery pack services, and battery management and reduction gear box and power systems.

Battery packs make up 30 to 50 percent of total EV component costs, while power systems and car electronic device components account for 20 to 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively. The last has electric power steering and vacuum system for brakes. Power systems consist of motors, drivers and reduction gears. Motors can be induction, magnet or DC series. The major suppliers in Taiwan are Fukuta, Shihlin, Tatung and Delta.

For batteries, the key cell providers are Amita, E-One, Pihsiang and Phoenix Silicon. The module sector has Simplo, Dynapack, Celxpert and TD HiTech. The main sources of cathode and anode materials, meanwhile, are Formosa Energy & Material, Advanced Lithium Electrochemistry, China Steel and Chuang-hua.

Currently, the major buyers of EV components are Japan, Europe and US carmakers. Mainland China is gradually gaining market share.

Note: This article "Taiwan steps up R&D for EV components, materials" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to- business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.

All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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