FamilyMart unveils electric vending car: What it means for Taiwanese EV industry

Rebecca Kuo, Tainan; Adam Hwang, DIGITIMES Asia 0

John Hsuan (left) in front of FamiMobi. Credit: DIGITIMES

Convenience store chain FamilyMart has unveiled FamiMobi, an electric vending car, for trial operation of a mobile convenience store in South Taiwan Science Park (STSP). According to FamilyMart, the FamiMobi electric vehicle is the first of its kind in Taiwan,

John Hsuan, honorary vice chairman of United Microelectronics Corp (UMC), helped with coordinating 15 local manufacturers to make FamiMobi entirely domestically sourced. These domestic suppliers include Clientron, Musclecar GT, Tron Energy Technology, Zero Emission Power Train, Sentec, Phihong Technology and ROC-Spicer.

According to Hsuan, Taiwanese manufacturers have the capabilities to produce components in electric vehicles (EVs), but such capabilities have not been integrated, since few EVs have been designed in Taiwan. Hsuan believes that the EV industry's growing global potential will provide Taiwanese EV supply chain a great opportunity.

There are many approaches to EV development, and Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Google and Apple have all adopted different approaches, he said. The crucial thing is for Taiwanese manufacturers to strengthen their own capabilities, and then synergize these capabilities as a whole to boost their competitiveness on the international market, he added.

The development of Taiwan's EV industry should be rooted in vehicle design, from which the manufacturers can develop a holistic view of the role of individual components within the EV, said Hsuan.

Addressing recent concerns toward the outlook for mature chip manufacturing processes, Hsuan indicated that mature process nodes still have a lot of potential. For example, an EV can include up to hundreds of ICs that require a variety of process nodes, Hsuan explained. Therefore, according to the former UMC CEO, it is quite difficult to lower chip prices.

Unlike low-end products, high-end products are value-added, and thus makers of high-end products think in a different way, Hsuan said. EVs are undoubtedly high value-added products, and Taiwanese manufacturers should change the traditional price-competition mindset, said Hsuan.