Finding the way with GPS and TPMS in Taiwan

Finding the way with GPS and TPMS in Taiwan
The media team pictured with Holux Technology director Eddy Huang at the company's HQ in Hsinchu.

As part of a series of blogs exploring the companies behind Taiwan's automotive supply chain, James Pozzi reports on visiting a GPS manufacturer and tyre pressure monitoring company Orange Electronic in the small Asian country with big ambitions.

Day three in Taiwan, where I’m staying in the city of Taichung, meant another day of visits to technology manufacturers all linked to the automotive supply chain.

The party hit the road in the morning and headed to the industry technology park in Hsinchu, situated an hour’s drive from Taichung to check out Holux Technology.

Established in 1994 and with a current turnover of $13.3m, Holux’s output is dominated by the Asian market, accounting for 75% of sales, with the EU a long way behind with 15%.

Like so many of the company’s visited on this tour, Holux is a world leader in its field, this time for GPS and satellite navigation equipment.

It possesses an extensive portfolio of products, catering for car navigation, sport industries and digital receivers.

With 66% of its sales dominated by car satellite navigation, company director Eddy Huang spoke of the challenges faced currently by more automotive companies offering in-built GPS as an add-on for new vehicles.

But while sales remain healthy, the company has factored this into its future products by venturing out into more specialist equipment.

Holux is developing a device which measures driver fatigue through a clip-on device synced to a free, downloadable Google app.

The device measures the heart rate of a driver, and in the event their heart rate was to lower by falling asleep at the wheel, it would instantly alert designated relatives via text message so they could call the driver to warn them.

A prototype of Holux's driving fatigue device, which is currently being developed for the Chinese market.

All impressive stuff. But does such a device have a place in the European market, where Holux currently distributes through Irish-based Cobra Electronics? Mr Huang believes so.

“Holux currently has no major distributor in the UK but that’s something we’re looking to address by next year,” said Mr Huang.

“The market may be shrinking due to in-built GPS devices but we’re developing other products also which we believe have the opportunity to grow.”

After an 8-course Japanese lunch and some of the party stopping off for Starbucks (globalisation at its finest) we returned to Taichung to visit Orange Electronic, a provider of tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) not to be confused with the UK telecoms provider.

Founded by ex-Mitsubishi employee Aliber Hsu, Orange set out to compete in electronics after Mr Hsu said ambitions to set up in auto parts were thwarted by the huge scale of investment needed.

Now employing 100 people with the top two floors of the building dedicated to product manufacturing, its sensor products can quickly diagnose pressure, temperature and battery levels on tyres.

Beginning by stating how a still relatively untapped market represents a great opportunity for his company, Mr Hsu detailed how Orange has worked with industry giants such as Siemens and Garmin on developing projects.

Aliber Hsu, CEO of Orange Electronic.

When asked about EU involvement with his comapyn, Mr Hsu said it has set its sights on the winter tyre market and is currently discussing the possibility of this with European winter tyre specialists in Scandinavia and Germany.

Today sees us return to Taipei, where we’ll stay for the remainder of what has been a fascinating trip providing a real insight into the Far Eastern manufacturing practices so often admired by the rest of the world.

Speaking Mandarin but with heavy influences from Japanese and American culture, it plays into its business practices, making Taiwanese manufacturers a unique hybrid within the region.