Electronics giant Samsung may have decided that it is qualified to enter the electric car arena, and it may well be. The South Korean smartphone, TV, camera, laptop, etc leader (which is actually South Korea’s largest conglomerate) has apparently filed several patents connected to electric cars.
Samsung has told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that it doesn’t intend to enter the electric car market, but the WSJ found that “Samsung Electronics Co.’s patent applications in the U.S. and South Korea this year cover parts and technology that could be used in electric vehicles.”
The WSJ provides a bit more info on what these patents targeted:
In the patent applications published through the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office as well as the Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service, Samsung submitted applications for new technologies needed in making auto parts that can be used in electric vehicles. These cover technology patents for tires, motors, as well as on-board electronics for information sharing between the car and driver.
Why did Samsung file those patents if it doesn’t have an intention to get into the electric vehicle realm? No one outside the company can say for certain, and no one inside the company is sharing.
However, the growing electric car market certainly does offer some considerably potential for electronics giants to get a footing in the lucrative automobile market. Jae H Lee, an analyst with Daiwa Securities, said: “Should the world enter an era of electric vehicles, the borderlines between auto makers and electronics companies will be blurred.”
With 100% electric car sales jumping 300% in 2013, and the possibility that they are halfway to market domination, I think companies such as Samsung, Apple, and Google would do well to take a leap and try to become leaders in this realm. They could make a big difference with the capital they’re able to bring into the market, and they could also capitalize on a fast-growing market that will eventually generate trillions of dollars of revenue. But there’s a bit of reason for Samsung to be a little hesitant. The WSJ noted that Samsung Group tried to enter in the automobile market in the past and then felt the need to pull out:
The Samsung Group’s initial foray in the automobile industry wasn’t successful. In the 1990s, it established an automobile unit called Samsung Motors Inc., through which it launched a sedan model currently known as the SM series. But it sold the business to France’s Renault SA in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, which hit many South Korean conglomerates. The company is now called Renault-Samsung Motors Corp. The two brands are under an agreement to keep the Samsung name until 2020, although they are unrelated in terms of business operations, according to a spokeswoman at Renault-Samsung.
Samsung Card Co., which is a credit-card affiliate of the Samsung Group and holds stakes in various Samsung companies, still has a 19.9% stake in Renault-Samsung.
Still, electric cars are a different story, an emerging market in which Samsung already has strong connections. Samsung SDI builds batteries that are used in electric vehicles — batteries are the most valuable technology within electric vehicles. It already has deals with BMW, Chrysler, and Mahindra & Mahindra; and it has been rumored that Samsung would also supply Tesla with electric car batteries.
If Samsung’s batteries are good enough for Tesla and BMW, they’re good enough for anyone, and Samsung could perhaps make even more cash off of its product by developing its own electric cars. With the brand’s consumer reputation, I think the company could do well. I’m sure Samsung doesn’t care, but I’d recommend that it jump into the electric car arena!