Send Taiwan's electric buses overseas, says Mobiletron

Annabelle Shu, Kaohsiung; Peng Chen, DIGITIMES Asia 0


Global bus sales are expected to reach 170,000 units in 2029.

Kim Tsai, chairman of Taiwan's Mobiletron Electronics, recently spoke at the 2024 Smart City & IoT exhibition in Taiwan. He told his audience that the global new electric bus market is expanding with a 10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

To grow Taiwan's e-bus ecosystem, support from semiconductor and ICT players is needed, he said. Taiwan should export its e-bus service to emerging markets in the long term, he added.

Global new e-bus sales are expected to reach 170,000 units in 2029, said Tsai. RAC Electric Vehicles, an affiliate of Mobiletron, has put 545 e-buses on the roads worldwide, with 31 operating in Japan, he added.

Tsai noted that an e-bus ecosystem contains material recycling, fleet management systems, internet safety, and other segments besides the advanced driver assistance system (ADAS). There is also the vehicle body, chassis and braking systems, and battery systems, he added.

He said smart cockpits and autonomous driving technology are critical to e-buses. Tsai said semiconductor and ICT companies must be recruited in a joint effort to enhance Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and establish smart bus services.

Tsai talked about his long-term vision for Taiwan's electronic buses. When the technology matures in Taiwan, the industry should export the service to Southeast Asia and other emerging markets, he said.

PHEV is rising. What about fuel-cell EVs?

Yu-Chan Hung, an analyst with the Industry, Science and Technology International Strategy Center of Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute also attended the event. He said battery EVs (BEV), plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEV), and hydrogen fuel-cell EVs (FCEV) are the primary new energy vehicles (NEV) available in the market.

In 2023, global NEV sales surpassed 20 million cars, accounting for over a quarter of the overall car sales. BEV and FCEV saw a 30% sales growth, respectively, while PHEV increased by 47%.

FCEVs remain a key talking point when it comes to zero-emission transportation. Hung said the world had 1,186 hydrogen fueling stations in 40 countries as of 2023.

New locations are mostly open in East Asia. South Korea has seen the fastest growth rate with 71 stations, followed by China's 62 stations, he said. Although Japan continues to host the most fueling stations worldwide, its growth has slowed, he added.

The same issue can be found in the US, Hung noted. Shell has said it will terminate a plan announced in 2020 to deploy 48 hydrogen fueling stations in America. The company also said it will stop operations at seven fueling stations, he added.

FCEVs encountered challenges in 2023. Hung took Toyota as an example.

The company saw sales of its Mirai, an FCEV, increase YoY since 2014, he said. The volume exceeded 20,000 units, a record high, in 2022.

However, the sales slumped to 16,000 cars in 2023. This was an 18% drop from the previous year, he added.

Hung said the global hydrogen demand CAGR will reach 75% in 2030. Hydrogen storage and transport costs will also improve as the number of transnational shipping vessels for hydrogen increases, he added.

Daimler Truck and Linde Engineering have developed sLH2, a refueling technology for subcooled liquid hydrogen. This will reduce truck refueling time to less than 10 minutes.