As part of our series titled ‘Global Trade Opportunities’ where we feature international firms that are looking forward to do business in India, Anurag Gaur from electronicsforu.com spoke to James Chen, vice president and general manager of solar business group, AUOptronics to know about their business strategy in India.
AUO was formed in September 2001 by the merger of Acer Display Technology, Inc. (formerly AUO, established in 1996) and Unipac Optoelectronics Corporation. In October 2006, AUO acquired Quanta Display Inc. The company has been operating production lines of various generations, capable of offering TFT-LCD panels from small to large sizes. It is claimed to be the first pure TFT-LCD manufacturer to have been successfully listed at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The company extended its market to the green energy industry in 2008 to provide customers with high-efficiency solar solutions.
AUO generated NT$379.7 billion in sales revenue in 2011 ($12.5 billion). It boasts a staff of more than 45,000 throughout its global operations spreading across Taiwan, Mainland China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the United States, and Europe.
SEPTEMBER 2012: Q. Tell us more about your products and services.
A. By means of innovative technologies, we offer advanced display total solutions covering 4K by 2K ultra high resolution, 3D, ultra slim, narrow bezel, transparent displays, LTPS, OLED, and touch solutions. Fabrication plants from Gen 3.5, Gen 4, Gen 4.5, Gen 5, Gen 6, Gen 7.5 to Gen 8.5 have been established to develop a full line-up of applications, offering TFT-LCD panels in sizes ranging from 3 cm (1.2 inch) to 180.3 cm (71 inch).
We are one of the top manufacturers of TFT-LCD panels in the world with a market share of 16.2 per cent in large-sized panels. We provide our customers with innovative, high value-added product portfolios. Our full array of production lines are flexibly employed to develop all kinds of display applications, ensuring the company stays one step ahead with business opportunities secured and synergies achieved.
Since the beginning of this year, our solar business has been adopting BenQ Solar as its brand name and establishing distribution channels in Europe, North America, and Asia to offer customers timely local support and high efficiency, reliable solar products that are easy to install. The product line aims to help users manage energy flexibly and save power costs. Our solar solutions are expected to be available in the Indian market in the fourth quarter this year to provide local customers with high-efficiency and economic solar solutions.
Q. How do you see India as a market for AUOptronics’ products and services?
A. The Indian solar photovoltaics (PV) market is witnessing a gradual shift from the ground-mount only to roof top, mini and off-grid solutions. BenQ Solar is staying close to the Indian potential partners by addressing their technology and business needs, offering user-friendly, high-efficiency, and cost-effective integrated module and mini-grid solutions to meet end customer needs for PV self-consumption, system installation, monitoring capability, power storage, and hybrid energy solutions, all at once.
What is the most important thing for India is at what cost and how it can meet investors’ return on their investment. If the local industry is not able to manufacture cost-effective products with the latest technology, it will become difficult for investors to accept or justify investment to set-up power plants. There can be a trend to cut corners by compromising on quality.
Regarding manufacturing costs, India has a great potential to be competitive when compared with China. But ecosystem needs to support this as well. For instance, local manufacturing of other products like glass, packaging and structures needs to be scaled up in the country.
Indian manufacturers need to collaborate with global companies to acquire latest technologies to be at par with global trends. Also, it is important to note here that the market is moving from ‘component sale’ to ‘value added sale’–much to the advantage of India. India is historically good at quickly adopting and creating solutions as per the market requirement. It also works to India’s advantage to experiment on different solution options at economic engineering and development cost–something which is difficult for developed nations. In short, India is well-positioned for ‘value added manufacturing and solutions’.
Q. Out of the range of products and services that you deal in, what are the kind of products that you feel find more takers in India?
A. Solar solutions, likely to be available in the Indian market in the fourth quarter this year, are expected to do very well. Residential users can store electricity from solar modules during daytime, and reduce costs of power generation from fossil fuels or other power sources. If solar power is not enough, the mini-grid solution can utilise other power sources to contribute to environmental efforts and cost savings.
Through the ‘global operation, local delivery’ business strategy, BenQ Solar has successfully built many solar projects worldwide, and is able to ship products that are locally made in Europe, Taiwan, China, US and through its potential Indian business partners to its worldwide customers. Distribution channels and service networks are being expanded continuously and simultaneously in Europe, America and Asia to provide customers with prompt and complete support and solar solutions that are easy to install, highly efficient and reliable.
Q. Please share your go-to-market strategy with regard to the Indian market?
A. AUO will be focussing on the Indian market with different solutions by partnering with local companies. The company plans to determine partner requirement to define co-operative business model to create solutions for the domestic market. This co-operation will be in the area of technology development, manufacturing and project development.
Q. Where all is your company present in India?
A. We do not have our own office in India. Though we are in discussions with few potential partners, we would not be able to disclose the details now. However, if anyone wants to contact us directly, they can touch base with Nava Akkineni in India.
Q. Are you open to partnering with distributors and system integrators in India?
A. Yes, we are looking for partners. In fact, we are also in talks with a few potential partners but we can’t disclose the details till the time everything gets finalised.
Q. What are the challenges that you have faced and foresee in India?
A. One of the most challenging opportunities that we are facing in India is to set up a correct business model and affiliating with the right business partner.
Q. What have been your marketing initiatives to generate more business in the country?
A. We haven’t yet got a chance to attend any expo or advertise in any magazine but we are certainly looking forward to creating and implementing a marketing strategy in India.