- Category: Opinion
07 Feb 2013
- Published on Thursday, 07 February 2013 08:11
- Hits (4001)
Just because a technology exists doesn’t mean that many people know it does or have an idea of just how it can change and improve their lives. Electric vehicles are an example of this. While the industry is expanding, many people still see little of the true scope of the technology.
In the recently concluded E.V. Japan 2013, automobile manufacturers and component manufacturers engaged in the electric vehicle market gathered to share insights amongst themselves and with other on the promise and potential of E.V. technology.
“We provide a venue for synergy between the technology and the people,” said Hajime Suzuki, overseas director of Reed Exhibitions Japan Ltd.
Mr. Suzuki’s organization envisioned the conference as a place where people could learn about the latest in E.V. and E.V. related technologies to get a better grasp of the future of the industry.
The event included technologies not just from Japan but from other fast-growing markets such as China and Korea.
“In this event, you can learn all about E.V.’s and other businesses related to the industry, see them side by side with the E.V.’s. This way it’s much easier to learn about the various aspects and existing market trends as well as future trends of the automotive industry,” said Mr. Suzuki.
According to Mr. Suzuki, while E.V.’s may not yet be considered a widely available commercial commodity; the industry is coming closer and closer to being commercially available year by year. And this progress is reflected in the exhibitors, presenters and attendees of conferences such as E.V. Japan 2013.
“In the past, most of the interest was only from the large automotive companies; by today, you can see that there is a lot of interest from other groups, including support from the government,” he said.
Having the conference in Japan is also a smart move as Japan is one region of the world where, from a technological point of view, E.V.’s are widespread. Other regions are Germany and China.
Challenges of an evolving technology
According to Mr. Suzuki, the cost of an E.V. in Japan is getting cheaper and cheaper, though compared to a regular car; the cost is still about 40-50 percent higher. If the technology would evolve to the point that an E.V.’s cost at least matches that of a regular vehicle, more people would be inclined to use E.V.’s.
“I see problems of quality, of technology and the lack of E.V. chargers,” said Mr. Suzuki.
He explained that, in Japan, most drivers only cover a very short distance – perhaps 40 to 50 kilometers per day. Most people still prefer a “merge” type vehicle such as a hybrid – which can run on both fuel and on electricity – then a full electric plug-in vehicle.
This is mostly due to concerns over an E.V. not having enough power if they would want to travel long distances. Mr. Suzuki see’s better – and more available - charging technology as a solution to people’s apprehensions over E.V.’s.
With the rapid maturation of both E.V. technology and its supporting products and infrastructures, events such as the E.V. Japan 2013 provide a much needed venue for those interested in the industry to keep track of developments.
Advancing towards the future
One visitor to the event, Professor Hiroshi Shimizu noted that the field of E.V. has truly matured and advanced over the past four to five years.
Professor Shimizu is often thought of as the “father of electric vehicles in Japan”, having worked in the field for over 35 years – participating in the development of over 15 electric vehicles. Currently with the technology development company SIM-Drive, Professor Shimizu has been an eyewitness to how E.V. technology has progressed.
“There are many other E.V. groups in the market today and the popularity of this show (and similar ones) is growing each year,” said Professor Shimizu.
According to Professor Shimizu, the event’s host country of Japan is one of the best examples of a market which has heavy integration and acceptance of E.V.’s.
“The potential in the market is outstanding as people are very aware of the value of the E.V. Socially, it is very much accepted and thought of as a personal way you can participate in the effort to better our world,” he said.
He did add however that the actual spread of the technology is still rather slow as large automobile component companies still no not prioritize E.V. components putting a damper on their manufacture and production.
Professor Shimizu also offered the opinion that China is one of the fastest growing, up and coming markets for E.V.’s, largely because even now they recognize the necessity of having E.V.’s on their roads.
“In the next 10 years, China is expected to increase the number of vehicles on its road exponentially, by almost 10 times if I remember correctly. The environmental impact of such an increase can be disastrous using internal combustion engines,” said Professor Shimizu.
He also mentioned that Southeast Asia would also see an emerging E.V. market, though the first wave of E.V.’s might not be full automobiles but rather alternative forms of transportation such as electric versions of motorbike which are currently in use in many countries in the region as a form of both personal and public transportation.