As Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption continues to grow across the world, especially in North America and Europe, Southeast Asia has been a step behind. However, in recent months, the region has been driving encouraging signs of growth and development in the EV market. Spurred by a renewed focus on sustainability and improving the quality of air in cities, Southeast Asia is awakening to an electric reality.
Across Southeast Asia, from Thailand to Indonesia and Singapore, we have been seeing a multitude of policies, initiatives to make their countries more conducive for EVs to take to the road. While the industry is generating strong momentum in the region, there is a long drive ahead before EVs take over.
Benefits of EVs
There are clear benefits of replacing ICE with EVs. While not entirely emission-free, EVs release significantly lesser pollutants than their ICE counterparts. Running on a renewable energy source, electricity, it drastically reduces CO2 emissions. By estimate, the amount of CO2 saved annually by having just one EV on the road is the equivalent to four Singapore-Bangkok return flights. Can you imagine just what the impact is on our environment can be if half our vehicles were electric?
Not to mention, the cost of charging an EV is significantly lower too, by up to two-thirds, compared to a vehicle that runs on petrol. Besides lowered emissions, an EV’s lifecycle and production process can also be much gentler on the environment. Without gas engines, EVs do not require traditional maintenance and repairs like an oil change. Studies are also showing that EVs allow for easier braking, reducing the rate at which brakes need to be replaced. By reducing or eliminating parts of a vehicle’s lifecycle, it lowers the strain on resources required to maintain it. From recycling to reusing our materials, we as industry leaders need to make a conscious effort to be sustainability-led.
Some challenges remain
Range anxiety, or the fear that EVs have insufficient range to reach their destination, and the current cost of EVs are just some of the concerns that end-users have.
With a shorter range and dependence on charging stations, there needs to be an elaborate infrastructure in place to alleviate range anxiety. The current lack of charging stations across the region has been a factor preventing quicker and wider EV adoption.
The cost of EVs remains high now due to a combination of factors – the technology itself and limited factories and manufacturers in the region. When it comes to cost reduction, it is a chicken-and-egg situation. Without sufficient demand from the end-consumer, EV manufacturers are not incentivised to set up shop here. The faster the adoption rate grows, the faster affordable EVs can be made available to local markets.
What the future holds
Already, Southeast Asian countries are making great strides. Thailand recently announced a USD48 million green loan to finance ongoing renewable energy projects and a countrywide electric vehicle charging network. Singapore has also committed to establishing at least 60,000 charging points by 2030.
Alternative battery options or sources will also prove to be key. For instance, Swag EV’s two-wheeled EVs (2W-EV) are powered by rechargeable lithium batteries and do not rely on EV charging ports. This means that users can charge their batteries, safely, at any conventional power point, alleviating range anxiety.
A game-changer in the immediate future would be the electrification of public and commercial transport. The cliche of “seeing is believing” holds particularly true for the EV industry. There is still much apprehension and skepticism around EVs and integrating them into our public infrastructure could just nudge the public towards a tipping point. From Thailand to Indonesia and even Singapore, the concepts are taking root.
We are in it for the long haul and for the EV industry to continue growing, technology and sustainability has to be at the forefront of everything we do. To drive adoption, the industry needs to continually innovate and ensure that we are able to cater to different populations and what suits their lifestyles. Some EV companies are now starting to produce larger vehicles and trucks to address different segments.
Not losing our focus on sustainability is also key. We are looking to partner with large energy companies to create sustainable renewable energy charging infrastructure. Once this is in place, governments will be able to more convincingly drive the use of EVs and put more rules and regulations on ICE vehicles.
If anything, the future is shining bright. Putting on our 2030 goggles, the EV landscape is exciting and looks vastly different from what we are experiencing today. It’s a vision where EVs become a choice and not a preference, and EVs overtaking the ICE vehicles. It is one where governments have long-term EV-friendly policies and incentives. And it is one where pollution from vehicles is greatly reduced.