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        FIEKView: Three development directions for the EV charging service industry in Taiwan
        IEKView:台灣充電服務產業 三大發展方向
        • 2023/11/30
        • 1880
        • 51

        The EV charging service industry in Taiwan started in 2012-2015. It was initially a government-led pilot scheme to assist the industry through the setting up of the first charging stations in 2012. The U.S. EV maker Tesla entered Taiwan in 2016 and deployed its own fast charging stations around the island, thereby opening up the mass market for EVs. By 2019, carmakers from Europe, the U.S., Japan and Korea such as Volvo, Nissan, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia and Porsche were launching EV models in Taiwan, and as a result, many new entrants joined the EV charging service market. Companies from the automobile, energy, communications, real estate, parking lot management and media industries all became involved in the deployment, operation and management of charging stations, as well as the related information and payment services.     

        Since the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgow in the U.K. at the end of 2021, all countries have set a goal of moving towards complete electrification of vehicles, the global EV market has grown by 95%, and charging services have become indispensable. According to Taiwan’s Pathway to Net-Zero Emissions in 2050 announced by the National Development Council in March 2022, the annual sales of new electric passenger cars should account for 30%, 60% and 100% of all new passenger cars by 2030, 2035 and 2040, respectively, to achieve the vision for electrification in Taiwan.

        With this target in mind, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications estimates that the year 2030 will see the registration of 114,000 electric passenger cars, and the cumulative number of all registered electric passenger cars on the road will reach 519,000. The year 2035 is expected to see the registration of 228,000 electric passenger cars, and the cumulative number of all registered electric passenger cars will reach 1.432 million. The number of newly registered electric passenger cars is expected to exceed 380,000 in 2040, with the cumulative number of registered electric passenger cars to exceed 3.027 million, accounting for 37%-40% of the total number of passenger cars.

        Based on this growth trajectory of electric passenger cars, the scale of public charging stations in Taiwan needs to expand significantly. Whilst the deployment targets vary from one country to another due to environmental considerations, Taiwan will need 52,000 charging stations by 2030, 143,000 charging stations by 2035 and nearly 303,000 charging stations by 2040, based on the 10 to 1 ratio required for EU member states by the European Union Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR). This rate of growth cannot be supported by Government subsidies alone. It will be necessary to revert to a business environment capable of generating reasonable profits.  

        Currently, the charging station operators in Taiwan integrate hardware and software and provide total solutions. The source of profits can be segmented into the establishment of charging stations, operational management and charging services (electricity fees).

        The customers for the deployment of public charging stations may be government agencies via construction tenders, carmakers or businesses such as parking lots, hotels and shopping malls via commissioning or cooperation agreements. With the exception of projects for government agencies and charging stations located at car dealers, the investment in setting up most charging stations will be recouped through charging service fees. The deployment of private charging stations is relatively straightforward as they are set up at the homes of car owners in cooperation with the carmakers.   

        Operational management systems are primarily for charging station operators. This includes energy management, load balancing, smart scheduling, equipment management and the monitoring of charging stations. Some charging station owners such as shopping malls, hotels and communities will subscribe to operational management services.

        Charging service fees are collected from car owners, mostly in the unit of kilowatt hours (kWh). DC fast charging typically costs NT$9 to NT$11 per kWh. AC slow charging is now moving from a free service offered by parking lot operators to a fee-paying model, either based on kWh or charging time, and which translates to a cost of NT$6 to NT$9 per kWh. Aside from the variation in electricity costs related to storage equipment or due to time-based tariffs, the biggest variable to revenues and profits is the number of vehicles charged. In other words, the key to maximizing charging service fees is an extensive footprint and coverage of customers, as well as a strategy and a backend system to evenly distribute incoming traffic for charging services.

        Whilst the current number of electric vehicles on the road in Taiwan is not sufficient to support a business model solely reliant on charging services, charging service incomes should increase along with an increase in the number of EV owners going forward. Other sources of profits may include the following:

        1. Advertising to car owners: For example, revenues from selling advertising on billboards at charging stations or cooperation projects with hotels, tourist sites and the travel industry are the main source of profits for VOLTA Charging, the largest independent charging operator in the U.S.
        2. Revenues from consumer data collection: Charging behavior and the inferred trail of car owners’ movements and daily activities may be collated and compiled into consumer survey data and statistics that other companies may be interested in. For instance, the home charging startup ChargeSmith started its business by integrating charging information collection and providing reports on the usage data of EV owners.
        3. Auxiliary electricity services: It is possible to profit from charging demand adjustment by working with energy aggregators and signing up with electricity trading platforms.

        The EV market in Taiwan is trailing behind Europe and the U.S. Based on the development of the EU/US charging service market, the market in Taiwan is set for explosive growth given the rate of EV adoption expected by 2030. This demand will fuel a variety of charging services. As Taiwan has already accumulated comprehensive strengths in tech hardware, it will be necessary to establish a business model with cooperation among different industries in order to shorten the investment payback period and create more flexibility and profits from charging services.

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