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Leading Solar Manufacturer GCL Plans to Enter EV Sector

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【Summary】In order to gain a foothold in the EV sector, GCL will participate in the establishment of an ‘eco-town’ in Nanjing (East China's Jiangsu Province). The business has expressed keen interest in leveraging its expertise in solar technology to support various aspects of the EV ecosystem.

Michael Cheng    Aug 24, 2018 3:24 PM PT
Leading Solar Manufacturer GCL Plans to Enter EV Sector

The EV industry is a convergence of several sectors, including automotive, tech and sustainable energy (just to name a few). In the sustainable energy space, leading China-based solar equipment manufacturer GCL is the latest company to move forward with plans to enter the nascent EV market.

The business has expressed keen interest in leveraging its expertise in solar technology to support various aspects of the EV ecosystem. GCL, as a producer of solar panels and related equipment, will likely integrate its products with EV charging stations, which would help ease demand for electricity during peak usage.

‘Eco-town' Project

In order to gain a foothold in the EV sector, GCL will participate in the establishment of an ‘eco-town' in Nanjing (East China's Jiangsu Province). For the project, the business intends to setup a massive solar production base worth $721.19 million. Moreover, it will build and provide solar-powered solutions for communities, residential spaces and commercial buildings within the area.

According to a report from Reuters, GCL is planning to construct EV production lines and manufacturing facilities in the location. Backing these claims are reports of the company looking to collaborate with automakers for the project.

"Our investment figures are very conservative and if the car firms come, it is a long industrial chain and many supporting factories will also come," said Tang Yanzhe, head of the Jurong ‘eco-town' project, during an interview with Reuters.

"The Yangtze River delta is the biggest market for new energy vehicles – the customer base is the most developed, whether for delivery vehicles or passenger vehicles."

The ‘eco-town' is designed to boost investment in specific industries. Additionally, the program attracts companies to develop cutting-edge projects, which highlight technological advancements in auto, agriculture, e-commerce and more.

New Business Strategy?

Based on GCL's scope of expertise, its recent activities may suggest that the company wants to expand its business to serve the battery-related needs of EVs. Like EVs, solar-powered systems rely on batteries for storing power. For GCL, pivoting its strategy to an industry wherein demand for such products are extremely high may help ease risks with the increasingly crowded solar equipment sector.

GCL acknowledged the local EV industry is starting to get competitive. However, it believes in its capabilities to rise above other businesses in the field. One of its strategies involves exploring the feasibility of producing low-cost EV batteries, which will be offered for rent to EV owners. The company plans to include a recycling service for power cells and utilize the units to support solar-powered systems.

In other countries, GCL is also expanding its solar energy business. For instance, in India, the manufacturer partnered with Japan-based SoftBank Group for the launching of a $930 million joint venture involving the development of photovoltaic tech.

"In the first potential project for this partnership, the two parties will leverage their strengths as leaders in the following areas: GCL will be responsible for keeping down production costs and providing support for the joint venture's production and new product development," explained GCL in a statement.

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