Japan’s GLM offers electric vehicle tech to Chinese carmakers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 November, 2016, 6:06pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 November, 2016, 10:55pm

Japanese electric vehicle technology company GLM wants to become a one-stop shop for EV technology, especially for Chinese carmakers as the nation’s electric vehicle industry continues to grow.

The Kyoto-based company has developed its own technology for electric vehicle power systems, chassis and vehicle control units, all of which are customisable to fit the needs of different carmakers.

“[Our technology] will be provided for mass-market electric cars,” GLM chief financial officer Sota Nagano said in an interview with the Post. “In this sense, we might be creating competitors for [companies like Tesla].”

On Friday, GLM launched its brand in Hong Kong by showing off its EV technology in the city. The company has plans to build an office in Hong Kong and leverage the city as a gateway to the Chinese market.

China represents one of GLM’s largest potential markets, where carmakers and even Chinese internet companies like LeEco are making a big push into producing electric vehicles thanks to generous subsidies and grants from the Chinese government for both carmakers and buyers alike.

In 2015, electric and plug-in hybrid car sales in China quadrupled to 351,000. In the first half of 2016, over 170,000 such vehicles were sold, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

But Nagano said that many Chinese carmakers often pour billions into research and development for electric vehicle technology without making huge breakthroughs in technology.

“Other companies are trying to take this immature technology and target it to the mass market, build mass-market vehicles,” said Nagano, pointing out that even internet and IT companies in China are trying to produce electric vehicles.

If they’re an IT based company … what could differentiate them is how they [plan to] construct the revenue model, rather than how to make cars
Sota Nagano, GLM chief financial officer

“If they’re an IT based company … they don’t need to know [how to make a] chassis and whatnot. What could differentiate them is how they [plan to] construct the revenue model, rather than how to make cars,” he added.

This is where GLM comes in, Nagano said, by providing its proprietary technology to these companies so they are able to manufacture a car at a cheaper cost rather than spending billions in research and development.

GLM’s power system and engine technologies can improve current EV battery efficiency by 10 to 20 per cent, reducing costs for carmakers since they can produce a longer-range car without having to spend more money to develop better batteries, according to Nagano.

The company is currently in talks with several Chinese firms to provide its EV technology and custom chassis for their electric vehicles, although Nagano declined to reveal specific companies.

But one of its first customers could be mobile games developer Youzu Interactive, which said in April this year that it could use GLM technology for the electric sport utility vehicle it was planning to make. Youzu has a 2.5 per cent stake in GLM.

Apart from providing technology solutions for EV automakers, GLM also has two of its own electric sports cars – the GLM-G4 and GLM-ZZ, which are being sold in limited numbers in markets like the UK and Japan.

The cars were developed as proof of the company’s technologies and to push the technological boundaries of electric vehicles today, Nagano said, although he declined to reveal how many GLM cars are being driven on the roads at present.