By Susan Hong and Matthew Burgess, EE Times Asia
Everything is coming together to make the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) one of the ripest markets for electric vehicles (EVs) over the next five years. Much of the technology required is local or soon will be, and consumers have plenty of motivation to switch to EVs.
Traffic in emerging Asian countries has become synonymous with congestion and smog. Driving in some of the major cities in this region can be a nightmare, and many of those cities have air pollution crises. That’s providing plenty of impetus for major cities in the region to adopt green and sustainable strategies, including developing and adopting EV technology.
A report by the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) indicates that by 2025, 20% of all vehicles on the road in Southeast Asia will be of the electric variety, including 59 million two- to three-wheelers and 8.9 million four-wheel vehicles. There is room for growth, as there are 640 million people in the 10 countries that are members of ASEAN.
Bumpy road aheadThere are still some local hurdles that EVs would have to overcome. Andreas Mangler, director of strategic marketing at Rutronik, pointed out that the main barriers to the adoption of EVs in Southeast Asia are the higher tax rates on EVs, the lack of a charging infrastructure with convenient proximity, and the limited driving range of the vehicles. He suggested that governmental intervention is the key to driving the growth of EVs in ASEAN at a level that ensures the deployment of a charging infrastructure. This infrastructure must adhere to compatible standards to support mass deployment.
The move toward EVs in Southeast Asian countries is part of an overall trend on the continent. “The opportunities for electric vehicles in Asian markets are almost limitless if we look beyond the immediate ASEAN region,” said Mangler. Because the competition in the global market for vehicles based on the internal combustion engine (ICE) is far too entrenched, China’s best bet is to simply leapfrog ICE technology and focus its efforts on EVs, he noted.
Rohit Girdhar, Vice President and Head of Strategy and Market Development, Asia Pacific, at Infineon Technologies believes that a number of changes need to happen before Southeast Asia develops a viable domestic market. “Firstly, you need infrastructure and the availability of a changing network, then the cost of ownership needs to be lower or comparable to conventional vehicles, and then government incentives.”
This isn’t necessarily far off, and Rohit feels that countries that are still in the development stage could be faster at adoption. He feels that Southeast Asia will benefit in yet another way from the mass deployment of EVs in China, as a thriving market next door will help drive costs down.
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