Following similar announcements made by various electronics retailers, including the UK’s Dyson, the Japan-based big-box consumer electronics retailer Yamada Denki has announced that it will begin selling compact plug-in electric vehicles by 2020.
Despite the lack of expertise currently, the company plans for the introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) to be a relatively smooth one owing to a new partnership with the EV startup FOMM (company website here). Yamada Denki is reportedly going to be putting some 1 billion yen ($8.83 million) into the Kanagawa-Prefecture-based startup located just outside of Tokyo, for a roughly 10% stake.
The plans seem to make a fair amount of sense (as with Dyson’s plans) owing to the fact that plug-in electric vehicles only utilize around 40% of the parts of comparable internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and are far simpler mechanically.
Therefore — and this is especially true when dealing with compact EVs — the barriers to entry in the market are far lower than with ICE vehicles.
Here’s more: “FOMM was founded in 2013 by a team including engineers who had worked on developing electric vehicles at a Toyota Motor group company. It is working toward an initial plan of mass-producing compact electric cars in Thailand. FOMM appears to be negotiating toward a deal to receive parts and investment from Chinese businesses including a member of the Beijing Automobile Works group.
“The startup is planning and developing small, electric four-seaters tuned to the needs of the Japanese market. It will entrust assembly to electronics maker Funai Electric. The cars are geared to general consumers, but demand is also expected from local governments and others. Sales are targeted at tens of thousands of vehicles a year.
“Yamada plans to sell the cars for 1 million yen or cheaper at stores throughout Japan as well as online, partnering with other companies for such services as maintenance. By comparison, versions of Mitsubishi Motors’ minicar-sized i-MiEV electric vehicle launched in December 2016 go for prices in the 2 million yen range.
“Yamada is also considering other ways to lower prices, such as selling vehicles as a set with homes offered by a group company and billing based on distance traveled.”
This news also follows the decision by Deutsche Post to begin manufacturing all-electric delivery vehicles for its own purposes, rather than contracting such a need out — owing to the relative ease of electric vehicle manufacture and the cost savings potential. It’ll be interesting to see how many firms previously outside of the auto industry will end up being able to benefit from the electrification of the industry.