Those seeking to create multibillion dollar businesses in electric vehicles, their components, intellectual property and services should look at the world's largest market - East Asia.
This region of the world purchases about 56% of the global market value of electric vehicles for land, sea and air and it will still be doing that in ten years time. For Western companies to take this huge opportunity seriously they first need to slay six myths.
It is all about cheap labor and the West cannot compete with that. The truth is that, although few in the West can compete with basic e-bikes made in China, most electric vehicles are not sold on price. Total global production of the Toyota Auris hybrid car will be in the UK, with the cars shipped from there into East Asia. Fiat Group in the West, involving Research Center Fiat, has electric buses and planned electric cars and electric heavy industrial vehicles etc but Toyota and Nissan in the East also have similar breadth of application and cross fertilisation of advances.
Kongsberg of Norway sells Autonomous Underwater Vehicles AUVs into South Korea and elsewhere in East Asia, for search and rescue, underwater repair, surveillance etc. They use those new lithium polymer traction batteries and electric motors that are increasingly popular in electric cars and aircraft and they cost up to $5 million each.
The IDTechEx report Car Traction Batteries - the New Gold Rush 2010-2020 discusses how North American traction batteries from Electrovaya, EnerDel and A123 Systems are being sold into India and China and elsewhere in East Asia - even to the leading EV manufacturers such as SAIC and Tata.
They steal your intellectual property then destroy you by making cheap versions of your EV or component. The truth is that, although trading with China needs care, at least 25% of East Asia's EVs will be made in India in ten years from now and Japan may remain the largest East Asian market for electric cars, mobile robots and much else besides.
In India and other parts of East Asia there is a stronger tradition of ongoing collaboration with Western companies to mutual benefit and many successful deals have already been done. For example, India is busily licensing and collaborating with the West to get traction battery technology in order to compete more effectively with China. The French-Japanese Renault Nissan alliance is a world beater.
There are no opportunities for investment in successful East Asian EV companies. The truth is that Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway in the USA made one billion dollars paper profit in one year from its investment in BYD Auto, the Chinese electric car maker.
You cannot get a good price if you try to sell your business to an East Asian company. The truth is that Geely of China paid a full price for Volvo and Manganese Bronze, the London taxi company and Tata Motors bought Jaguar Land Rover for a generous $2.3 billion just before the recession hit.
The East Asians do not innovate so they do not need new ideas. The truth is that, with the major countries of East Asia losing their cheap labor, they desperately need to innovate to succeed. India has the first LNG hybrid electric bus and affordable hybrid bus conversion from Afs Trinity Power Corporation and the first solar rickshaws, China has the first long range pure electric car and saleable pure electric sports plane before PC-Aero of Germany. Although the West leads in photovoltaics on electric aircraft eg ETH Zurich, the first solar power on electric buses has just appeared in East Asia.
South Korea is progressing with cars that capture inductive power from the road and it has a pneumatic hybrid. The Japanese Prius series parallel hybrid power train remains unique as do the Honda U-3X hand held bike, its mobile home robots and much else in Japan. They all eagerly seek to buy or license good ideas.
You cannot get investment from East Asia. Well, just note that Coda electric car company in the USA has just received a $294 million line of credit from the Bank of Tianjin Joint Stock Co. In China and there is a steady stream of East Asian organisations taking both minority and majority positions in Western EV and EV component companies.
One problem has been that the situation in East Asia has been rather opaque to Western eyes. There has been no analysis of East Asian demand for all EVs - land, sea and air - and no forecasts of what to expect in the next ten years.
Western media report little about the region, beyond the product launches of the largest participants. Even that is highly oriented towards cars, which are only half the market and by far the toughest sector in which to make profits. Most of the aspiring participants in the EV business, whether with vehicles or their components, should be looking at cars last not first.
Global news at last
IDTechEx now provides free daily EV information interpreted by experts. Uniquely, it includes at least as much about East Asia as about the West. It is called Electric Vehicles Research www.idtechex.com/evr.
First report to analyse the complete East Asian EV market
Further, IDTechEx has just issued a new report Electric Vehicles in East Asia 2011-2021 which gives ten year forecasts for the region by number, unit price and market value, all by vehicle type.
The numbers and value by country is also forecasted and the report is replete with statistics on EV manufacturers and their activities, battery suppliers, collaborations, future launch dates and much more. There are chapters detailing activity in China, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.
Many new EV markets being created in the region are analysed such as hybrid outdoor heavy industrial EVs, e-rickshaws and mobility aids for the disabled. The bad news is there too, such as explanation of the futility of China having 100 manufacturers make pure electric cars with no charging infrastructure and new Chinese regulations destroying much of the e-bike business. Despite that, we explain how China will remain the largest EV market in the region - a voracious purchaser of electric vehicles from e-buses to e-forklifts and how e-cars will eventually be very big in China.
The global scene
For those wishing to grasp the global scene, with East Asia taking its appropriate part, IDTechEx is staging an event Future of Electric Vehicles in San Jose 7-8 December 2010. Unlike other electric vehicle events, it will cover land, sea and air EVs, concentrating on future breakthroughs worldwide.
That encompasses lessons in technology from record breaking motor cycles, racing cars and aircraft and announcement of totally new approaches to EV components and systems such as multilayer printed electronics and electrics that are then molded to any shape and the use of self powered wireless sensors and controls and new forms of energy harvesting.
There will be a two day conference with optional Masterclasses and visits to local centers of excellence such as Kleenspeed (200mph Formula One racer) before and after. Nissan of Japan, Tianjin Polytechnic University of China, Everspring Global Ltd from Hong Kong and KPIT Cummins of India are among the speakers. IDTechEx will present analysis of the whole East Asian market for electric vehicles, land, water and air. There is an exhibition and awards dinner. Why not apply for an award? See: http://www.idtechex.com/electricvehiclesusa10/