Personal mobility wasn’t the only exciting topic discussed during the Feb. 4 online webinar called “Nissan FUTURES – Electrification and Beyond”, which gathered transport industry leaders, government representatives and motoring media practitioners to assess the status of vehicle electrification in the Asean. There were also serious discussions about the possibility and feasibility of integrating electric vehicles (eVs) into mass transport systems.
Edmund Araga, president of the Asean Federation of Electric Vehicle Associations (Afeva) and the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (eVAP), assessed that without big push from governments, the widespread adoption of eVs into mass transport systems would be a steep uphill climb in Asean.
“In the medium term, e-buses are expected to start to penetrate the region. For now, however, this is only expected from government-led pilot programs. (Electric buses) cost more than twice that of conventional ones. Assuming they have lifecycle cost parity, most players would get two diesel buses rather than one e-bus to generate double the revenue. Without government incentives, or unless the program is government-led, it would still be hard to see the mass adoption of e-buses in the region,” Araga explained.
Not everything depends on government intervention, however. Prices of crucial parts, such as those of batteries, will also be key. “The projected rapid reduction in prices of batteries, coupled with very strong and deliberate government policies of easing out conventional fleets in the public transport system, is expected to strengthen the argument for e-bus mass adoption. Under this scenario, the initial cost of the vehicles becomes a non-issue as people pay for the service and not the vehicles, thus opening a wider adoption for eVs,” Araga said.
It would also help the cause of electrification if the government would lead by example. “For the short term, with appropriate government policies and incentives, we are also looking at the wider adoption of eVs in government, corporate and tourism industry fleets as the charging infrastructure becomes more mature. eMobility sets the transport system for connected and newer concepts of mobility like ‘Mobility as a Service’,” Araga added.
Consumer research in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore reveals that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents across Southeast Asia say they are more willing to consider an eV than they were five years ago; 66 percent of consumers across the region believe they will inevitably adopt electrified mobility as part of their lives in the near future.
Araga described the Asean market as having “a lot of potential” and “an emerging market” for eVs, as it boasts two crucial factors that are markedly growing faster compared to other regions: Population and technology.
He observed a growing number of young professionals in the region, with average ages of 25 to 32, bearing “the capacity to adapt changes and to always find a convenient way to make a living, and having the urgency of seeking out innovations and trends, especially in mobility.”
Araga said that these youngsters’ interest in technology is integrated into different applications that address convenience and time-saving approaches in their daily activities. “The internet of things (IOT) plays a big role in their connectivity and convenience,” he said.