Saturday, July 31, 2010

No. 55: Local medium-sized companies collaborate to develop electric vehicles (July 31, 2010)

In Japan, the move that local medium-sized companies work together to develop electric vehicles (EVs) is spreading. This is because medium-sized companies that once enjoyed brisk business as subcontractors of big companies have been losing business volume because of the big companies’ trend to transfer their manufacturing plants in Southeast Asian countries. A local company in Osaka Prefecture will build a trial three-seat three-wheeled EV by March 2011 for mass production scheduled for 2012. It will specialize in fabrication using imported chassis and battery. The planned EV is designed for short distant shopping only and not designed for driving on an express highway. It runs at the maximum speed of 35 km/h and for 70 km per about six-hour charge. The price is scheduled at between 1 and 1.5 million yen. A total of 23 medium-sized companies participate in the project. The competition in the EV development is growing harder, and big companies including Toyota are energetically developing EVs. It is, therefore, advisable for the group of medium-sized companies to focus on the zippy model positioned between car and bicycle because it is hardly possible to compete with big companies in EVs that replace the gasoline-powered vehicle. In addition, a facilitator from the third party, such as government agency and local municipality, is indispensable because each participant has its own interest. The price range should be between 1 and 1.5 million yen. It is advisable not to touch on the EV that costs more than 1.5 million yen, leaving the domain of such expensive EVs to big companies.

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