Charging towards more adoption of electric vehicles in SE Asia

The adoption of electric vehicles as a significant mode of transportation is expected to spike in the near future with the various efforts being taken to facilitate the shift from fuel-based vehicles both by the government and the private sector. Photo shows participants at the E-Mobility Asia CEO Business Luncheon in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, May 30.
By Jeff Yong

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 – Despite some lingering scepticism about the future of electric vehicles (EVs), their proponents are gung-ho about them!

It has been discerned that EVs are 75 percent efficient at turning input energy into moving energy (kinetic energy) while gas-powered vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE) are only 25 percent efficient. Given that EVs also have less parts to funnel energy through, they undergo less energy conversion, thus resulting in less energy loss compared to gas-powered engines.

EVs are also perceived to have the potential to improve public health as they do not emit as many harmful gases as petrol or diesel-powered vehicles. Hence, EVs do not contribute to the presence of gaseous chemicals in the air.

It is said that while electric cars have a higher initial cost than gas cars, they are usually more affordable in the long-term. This is because it costs much less to maintain an EV than a traditional ICE or internal combustion engine vehicle.

Supporters of EVs say these super-quiet vehicles run simply on batteries and electric motors and therefore they have very few mechanical parts with the potential of breaking down, thus translating to less replacement costs in the future.

From available statistics, there’s no stopping the march towards EVs, especially with China leading the charge with its many car companies bringing numerous battery-powered vehicles on to the roads.

Case in point is MG, which stands for Morris Garages, which started in Britain in the 1920s as a luxury sports car brand, rather famous for its sleek open-top two-seaters before World War II. It is now owned by SAIC, China’s largest car manufacturer, and has gone fully electric!

While Tesla has been synonymous with EVs, companies like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, Volkswagen, Audi, Ford and Chevrolet, to name few, have also made their mark on the EV scene.  

According to Datuk Dennis Chuah, President of the Electric Association of Malaysia (EVAM), the base for EVs In Malaysia is now less than one per cent but the good news is that demand is gaining traction.

The Malaysian government, he added, has targeted a total of 1.5 million EVs by 2040.

In laying the groundwork for this target, the Malaysian government is providing incentives to encourage greater adoption of EVs through tax exemptions and installing 10,000 EV charging points by 2025, he told a CEO business luncheon in conjunction with the promotion of the E-Mobility Asia (EMA) exhibition here from Nov 22 to 24, 2023.

To be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and themed “Driving Forward to a Greener Future”, EMA is aimed at promoting EVs and electromobility solutions in the South East Asian region.

It is expected to attract more than 150 exhibitors from 25 countries and there will also be eight major pavilions hosted by China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan and the Netherlands.

Kisda Utarmote, President of the Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand (EVAT), who also spoke at the same function, revealed that global passenger car sales totalled 1.21 million units in 2017.

But global sales of EV passenger cars had risen to 10.6 million units in 2022, he said, adding that China, which is leading the charge in EVs around the world, saw one EV sold out of every four cars bought in 2022.

As for Thailand, its government is offering tax incentives for foreign companies to produce EVs, including commercial vehicles, as well as battery cells, said Kisda.

Adrianto Gani, Vice Chairman of Promotion and Marketing in PERIKLINDO, the Indonesian EV industry group, is of the view that all vehicles in Indonesia can go fully electric by 2060.

Presently, there are 19 million cars, seven million trucks and 16 million motorcycles in Indonesia using the conventional fossil-fuelled internal combustion engines. But by 2030, Indonesia is expected to have 26 million electric motorcycles and two million electric passenger cars.

Adrianto also disclosed something very pertinent about decarbonisation, greenhouse gases and climate change given that temperatures in Indonesia has been rising by 0.03 degrees Celsius annually and therefore its government has to accelerate the transition to EVs and reduce the burden on fuel imports and subsidies.

In terms of carbon dioxide emissions, he disclosed that the transportation sector alone accounted for some 30 per cent, and out of this, the highest emissions came from land transport at 88 per cent!

Azrul Reza Aziz, CEO of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics & IoT Institute (MARii), said it is important for local industry players to seize opportunities now that the disruption to the automotive industry has begun.

To this end, Edmund A. Araga, President of the Asian Federation of Electric Vehicle Associations and Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines, stressed that it is important for industry players to push for a better charging infrastructure for EVs in the next 10 years as an incentive to get more people to switch to EVs.

The charge towards EVs is on.