Author and Editor: Yunchieh Tsou, Translator: Athena Chen
The idea of a smart city is inevitable when discussing the future of urban development in Taiwan. Electric cars which integrate the latest technology, is environmental friendly, and drives sustainable and forward thinking business models, is what the Taipei & Kaohsiung municipal governments are currently focused on actively developing. With the high density of scooters in Taiwan, Gaius Auto envisions a smart city populated by eco-friendly electric cars, and ultimately hopes that a driverless transportation system will become the reality in realizing an smart and eco-friendly city.
Taiwan as the perfect market for electric cars!
Gaius founder Anthony Wei realized that scooter is the most widely used mode of transportation in Taiwan, after coming back from the States. According to numbers from the Ministry of Transport, at the end of the year 2015, there were around 21 million scooters. Most of these scooters relied on fossil fuel, with only a small number of electric cars. Seeing the potential for a future market, Gaius decided to zoom in on Taiwan as their main focus, and hopes to improve on a larger scale, the pitfalls of traditional urban cities such as city traffic, air pollution, and urban space planning.
Founded in 2010, the Gaius team is highly experienced in the skills and development of electric cars, and lithium battery modules. From the design, construction, to developing software for the central control system, the Gaius team has it all covered, and has the ability to create an integrated production chain, where research and development all the way to marketing and sales services are all in one. With technology that has garnered international attention, Gaius has even partnered with Oxford University to develop driverless cars, and has also been invited by the French president François Hollande for talks, with plans to expand into the European market as well.
Go Electric: Not Only Does Taipei Become a Green City, But You Can Also Save the Polar Bears
The municipal governments of Taipei and Kaohsiung have both jumped onto the same ship of rolling out new policies of shared electric cars. According to research done by Gaius, if Taipei adopted electric cars as its main mode of transportation, then it can decrease carbon emissions by 30,000 tons, equaling building 75 Da-An Forest Park every year.
Currently, Gaius is working together with supply chains in Taiwan to produce three wheeled electric cars, with a focus on commercial usage in areas of logistics, security, and postage services. Not only can the electric cars be charged wirelessly, the cars all come with a dashboard that connects to a cloud server, displaying battery percentage and route map in real-time.
On the other hand, Gaius is now working with Delta Electronics to produce charging stations. This is a move that is future-proof, and Anthony Wei believes that Taipei can be a leading city for the electrification of transportation in Taiwan. Once you start to layout the plans for it, a demand will naturally originate, propelling the surrounding environment, market and regulations into action, resulting in conditions that are suitable for collaborations and partnerships.
Anthony Wei tells us that, “There are three stages to what Gaius is trying to achieve, the short-term goal is to produce electric cars, mid-term goal to create a automobile manufacturing platform, and in the long-term to go completely driverless. Starting from scooters, what we aim to make in the future is compact driverless electric cars.” As Uber CEO Travis Kalanick once said, “Developing driverless cars is life or death for us, ” this is where the trend of the industry lies: electrification, connected, and driverless. Gaius insists on starting from Taiwan and then going global, which in turn may bring about a needed upgrade for the local manufacturing industry.
The Future of Taiwan’s Transportation: Shared Economy and Real-Time Services
The novel ecosystem that Gaius Auto is looking to build up, can be called “Transportation-as-a-Service”. Transportation as service starts when you begin your journey, and can be discussed via car-sharing and driverless car systems. The biggest issue is the integration of hard and software technologies, and also of the linking of related industries and the rise of surrounding new services and business opportunities. It is quite integral for the public and private sectors to work together, and also in forming a industry value chain from upstream to downstream. Currently, Uber can be seen as the start to realizing the idea of “Transportation-as-a-Service.”
Anthony Wei thinks that there are three main points to the future of Gaius, that is: sharing economy, driverless, and electrification. These three important aspects, define the differing ecosystem levels of the Gaius product, and also interconnects multi-industries in creating an ecosystem bearing the idea of ”Service as the Essence of Transportation”
Once a demand-led ecosystem has been formed, a new industry ecosystem will be born. “For an electric car industry to succeed, the only way is to ensure that all parties affiliated with the ecosystem is profiting, then can the market be successfully taken.”
Smart Traffic Development Talent is Abundant in Taiwan. What we need to do is to cultivate the talents
Taiwan’s electric car and driverless car industry is still in the early stages, but when talking about the advantages that Taiwan has in terms of talent, Anthony Wei states that not only do you need programmers, but also marketing, customer service and business development talent as well. This is a new business ecosystem, and though technical foundations are crucial at this point, when growing a new business model, there is a need for people of different capabilities to come together and build it up. Anthony Wei, being a lecturer at university, is also there to discover and recruit new talent.
Next year, Gaius is planning for an A-round funding, in which the use of funds will be for production of their electric cars. Commercializing the product will also be a focus, and the company plans to grow to 80 people from their current 20 people team.