Published on December 20th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Electric Cars From Samsung? Maybe…

December 20th, 2013 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

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 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! 😀

Photo Credit: RHiNO NEAL / / CC BY-NC-ND

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • iKrontologist

    Actually Samsung still owns a major share in Renault Samsung SMI, Busan, as part of the trade (not a complete sale to Renault). Initially it was just another of the myriad of Joint Ventures Samsung is always investing in to keep taxes low.

    Like Corning Glass Joint Venture, they traded back to Corning for a large share of the company. But…. Samsung is invested in so many companies you just don’t know about. They own their own Banking and Insurance companies too. Samsung is so huge and diverse it mind boggling and really impossible to calculate everything, because much of it is Privately Held by the Lee Family Chaebol!

    Unlike Apple or Google they are end to end hardware manufacturers of a whole range of products from Mobile Howitzers, Jet Engines for Fighters, Robotics, Hospitals, Skyscrapers (Burj Khalifa Dubai), Ships, Mining own Silver and Gold in own mines in Sierra Leon and you’re barely scratching the surface. If you think Samsung Group is all of it? You need to take off your American “I Bleed 6 Colors for Apple” Glasses, to see the light!

    Where does anyone think the eMX Electric Car Project got all it’s materials, parts and batteries? Yeah…. Samsung is the only company in the World that can supply everything themselves and get paid major profits to other Privately held parts of itself. Apple fans may think Apple’s Market Cap is important, but reality is it ain’t jack$hit! …..when you are your own end to end supplier, manufacturer, assembler, marketing, shipper/distributor, etc and you make money off doing that!!! 😀

    Now Samsung finally announced that they are indeed launching S-Car Project and have had as many as 2000 Engineers already working on this since 2008. Which was when they co-op’d with Renault on eMX car. Plus the best selling electric car in South Korea is one built in SMI Busan Factory. But this project will be solely a Samsung Designed Car in cooperation with Renault only!

  • Wayne Williamson

    Don’t know if they’re plan on building one or just want in on the electronics side…

  • Patrick Jerome

    The Apple Icar, it has only one button for everything

    • Bob_Wallace

      If you buy one how many hours per week are you required to proselytize?

  • Will E

    It will not be long time, that it will seem so stupid to buy gas with your dollars and burn it in your car. burn your dollars in your car.
    I want Electric cars. Solar on the garage, drive for free, money making transition..
    buy a house and burn it, that is stupid,
    buy a tv set and burn it, stupid
    buy a car and burn it, that is stupid.
    buy gas and burn it —- normal?????

  • Bob_Wallace

    “Car makers”, at least the US ones are more like “car assemblers”.

    They design the car they want to assemble and then contract with other companies to build the various parts. A windshield manufacturer may be making windshields for several different car assemblers.

    With EVs on the upswing I’m sure lots of companies are looking for a way to get a piece of the action. The battery market is going to be enormous. As will the control electronics. These are areas where companies like Samsung can get involved without actually assembling/marketing an EV of their own.

    And if they do happen to come up with an idea for a better tire/whatever they can spin that off to a different company by licensing their patent.

  • Jouni Valkonen

    Indeed, car markets need more competition for Tesla and I think that fresh eh start-ups will do the jobs best. Traditional automanufacturers are too deeply married into ICE technology that they do not have motivation to push the necessary changes that will push the battery costs down.

    We need more long range top end compelling premium electric cars to the market. They can generate enough demand for the EV technology that it will drive down the cost.

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