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Rumble of Thunder at IAA

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Thundering up behind its rivals, the new Thunder Power electric sedan from Taiwan at the IAA motor show in Frankfurt.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Taiwanese e-car maker is just one of the many tech-driven companies that are lining up to grab a piece of the automotive industry during its transformation to future technologies.

  • Facts


    • Thunder Power is a Taiwan-based company mainly engaged in the research, development, design, and manufacture of electric automobiles.
    • The Thunder Power sedan is slated to make its European debut in 2017.
    • Despite hiring former U.S. Hyundai chief last week, Google claims it doesn’t want to build cars, but partner with manufacturers to provide the software.
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The opening day of the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt was a good one for Wellen Sham from China.

“I’ve been feeling pretty gloomy these last three months,” said the 63-year-old entrepreneur. He had begun to doubt his idea of facing off with the American pioneer Tesla with an electric car.

Banks had threatened to cut off his financing and he had to inject several millions from his private fortune into his firm. “But at the start of the IAA, we were highly praised – even by the critical Germans,” he said.

Mr. Sham worked for four years on the car himself before reorganizing his company Thunder Power around the new product four years ago. Previously, the company had produced drills and other equipment for Western customers, including Bosch.

“We are developing a new technology that is able to blend carbon fiber, aluminium and steel,” Mr. Sham told Top Gear website. The entrepreneur designed the Thunder Power’s chassis himself, as well as the battery pack and the motor.

He has chosen a risky path but believes it will pay off, saying he thinks this is the most auspicious time to enter the field of car manufacturing.

The automotive industry is undergoing its most profound transformation in a century. The shift from conventional to electric motors and the digitization of vehicles are opening up opportunities for new providers. Technology firms such as Apple, Google and Baidu are elbowing their way into this market worth billions. At the same time, firms such as Tesla and Thunder Power are pinning their hopes on electric motors.

At the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, the focus is on electromobility and networked cars. The newcomers are maintaining a low profile – Google didn’t even set up a stand but rather opted to send its representatives to panel discussions.


Video: Thunder Power at the Frankfurt motor show.

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