Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), a partly state-owned defense contractor, is cooperating with Tangeng Advanced Vehicles Co. (TAV), Taiwan’s biggest maker of rail fright wagons, to develop electric vehicles. Starting with electric buses, the two ultimately expect to build an ecosystem.
The partnership also seeks to support the Taiwanese government’s goal to produce homegrown electric buses by 2030. Production will begin in the first quarter of 2022, targeting Japanese and the US markets.
AIDC was founded in 1969 under the supervision of Taiwan’s Air Force, and has gradually evolved into a commercial entity. The company has been at the centre of Taiwan’s quest of defense autonomy, and recently it has partnered with Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor, to establish an F-16 fighter jet maintenance center in Taiwan, serving the needs in the Asia-Pacific region.
Based on its experiences in the aerospace industry, AIDC also established Taiwan Advanced Composite Center (TACC) in 2010, specialized in the R&D, design, manufacturing and assembly of composite materials such as fiber-reinforced polymer. Boeing and Airbus are among TACC’s customers, as the aerospace industry increasingly replaces the aluminium alloys in aircraft structures with fiber-reinforced composites, owing to their higher tensile strength.
At the current stage, the buses designed by AIDC and TAV will use aluminium alloys, but fiber-reinforced composites will play an increasing role in the future as EV makers like Tesla opt for such lightweight materials for cost and weight reduction.
Besides its expertise in composite materials, AIDC also aspires to bring its avionics know-how into EV production, since the two share similar requirements in terms of high-voltage applications and strict thermal requirements. One of the focuses of AIDC’s cooperation with TAV is vehicle control unit (VCU). VCUs have become central as powertrains undergo electrification and more processing power are needed for interconnected functions.
Moreover, AIDC has also designed a J1939 CAN (Controller Area Network) Bus Network Platform and an EV battery management system. The J1939 CAN Bus Network Platform was developed based on specification of the US Society of Automotive Engineers and provides serial data communications between Electronic Control Units. In turn, AIDC’s battery management system and VCUs adopts the J1939 CAN Bus Network Platform.
The two systems have already been adopted by Luxegen, one of Taiwan’s largest automobile manufacturers.