Taiwan leads the world in production of electric scooters, making more than a third of the total output worldwide in 2009, according to Taiwan’s Automotive Research & Testing Center (ARTC).
Last year, companies in Taiwan made 278,000 e-scooters, or 38.6% of the world’s total production, ARTC said in a statement on its website.
Many of the companies in the business see e-scooters as a market that will grow even faster in terms of unit shipments than electric automobiles.
William Chang (Senior Manager of Corporate Marketing for Chroma ATE Inc. that makes inverters for scooters and cars) says: "We have provided e-scooters in 14 nations. We plan to market e-scooters worldwide."
The key markets initially will be China, Vietnam and other Asian nations, according to Chang and other executives in the business.
Governments around the globe are subsidizing development of electric vehicles to reduce dependence on imported oil, cut carbon emissions and limit environmental impact. At the same time, startup companies in the transportation industry see electric vehicles as a key opportunity to grab market share in a business that’s expected to take off starting around 2015.
Currently, the price range for an e-scooter made in Taiwan ranges from the equivalent of US$3,000 to US$2,000, according to Chroma ATE’s Chang.
The scooters have a range of up to 95 kilometers per battery charge, and charging a battery takes about eight hours, he says.
Some of Taiwan’s largest motorcycle makers including Kwang Yang Motor Co. and Sanyang Industry Co. also have electric scooters on the market. The companies are part of a well developed supply chain in Taiwan that includes manufacturers of key parts such as electric motors, inverters and batteries.
In addition, one local company, Asia Pacific Fuel Cells, has developed fuel cells that have been used to power electric scooters in tests that are preliminary to commercialization of the technology.
Taiwan has many companies entering the electric vehicle industry. E-One Moli Energy Corp., supplied the lithium-ion batteries used in BMW`s MiniE electric car. Fukuta Elec. & Mach. Co. has supplied electric motors for the Tesla Roadster, BMW`s MiniE and the Luxgen electric car that’s made in Taiwan by the Yulon Group.
Production of electric vehicles is predicted to soar in the next few years. Approximately 1 million EVs are expected on the road in the U.S. by 2015 with five times that many expected by 2020, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a U.S.-based research group.
Markets in Asia and Europe are expected to grow at a similar pace. Billions of dollars are being invested globally to develop and promote electric vehicle technology, including almost US$3 billion from the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.