A country leader recently requested for Elon Musk to build a Tesla factory in his country, making waves around the world alongside the hot topic of interest surrounding Electric Vehicles (EV). Today, governments are also collaborating with businesses to build the necessary EV infrastructure such as chargers and charging stations to meet their sustainability policy goals. With the recent developments, EV manufacturers, battery producers or suppliers, and more businesses are eyeing a share of the EV market.

According to Southeast Asia Development Solutions (SEADS), the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region is emerging as a promising market and manufacturing hub for EVs, with the market forecasted to grow to $2.7 billion by 2027. This growth is driven by factors such as a wider range of EV options being made available to consumers, government incentives aimed at encouraging EV adoption as well as direct investments in EV charging infrastructure, and a change in consumer behavior influenced by considerations including zero tailpipe emissions, reduced maintenance costs, and increased savings.

Despite the well-known advantages of EVs and the positive projections for APAC, EVs are still not the mainstream mode of transportation – not even when Asia is now classified as being “home to 93 of the 100 most polluted cities.”

A sporadic availability of EV charging infrastructure

For a start, while the range of EVs has expanded over the years, there is still a shortage of publicly available EV charging stations in many parts of APAC. As such, EV owners are still facing the difficulty of gaining access to charging infrastructure and services.

The Hindu Business Line reported that the demand for charging stations in India is nine times more than what is available, and there are also more charging stations in urban cities such as Delhi, and Mumbai, while the rural areas remain significantly underserved. Logically, this limits the journey of EV drivers. The charging stations made available to the drivers also come with multiple charging standards, which causes incompatibility issues for EV drivers. At the same time, manufacturers are unable to mass-produce batteries for EVs due to scarce raw materials, which in turn affects the affordability of EVs in the country.

In Vietnam, EV drivers are also faced with the challenge of insufficient charging stations due to a lack of domestic suppliers and inadequate government support. The sporadic availability and unstandardized nature of EV charging infrastructure is a sign for governments to work more closely with businesses to expand the network of charging stations, rapidly and strategically. This can help mitigate the issue of range anxiety – a problem that is highly prevalent among existing EV users, and a deterrent for many potential EV adopters.

The importance of grid stability

To meet increased electricity demand and high-speed charging needs, a robust power grid becomes a necessity. Elevated energy consumption can strain grid stability, potentially causing power outages, blackouts, and costly infrastructure repairs – especially with inefficient feeder capacities or uncoordinated charging.

According to a study by The Energy and Resources Institute, the rapid adoption of EVs in India is putting a strain on the country’s power grids. EV charging can lead to increased congestion on the grid, thus causing instability. If too many EVs are being charged at the same time, the transformers and power lines will be put at risk of being overloaded. As such, even if a country succeeds in building a strong network of charging stations for EVs, the overloading of grids would render the initiative useless.

For EV adoptions to be successful, there must also be efforts invested in upgrading the grid infrastructure and developing smart charging systems that can manage efficient charging of EVs while balancing the grid. By doing so, countries can minimize the impact on the grid as well as on grid infrastructure, making it more resilient to power fluctuations. 

The role of R&D in overcoming EV barriers

To address these challenges, governments, businesses, and research institutions have a part to play in  Research & Development (R&D) to support the widespread adoption of EVs. R&D should be aimed at developing new technologies, processes, and solutions to address the current pain points hindering EV adoption. For example, new solid-state batteries are being developed and their benefits include improved safety, faster charging, longer range, and higher energy density – thanks to R&D.

Multiple payment platforms integrated into EV charging infrastructure is another example of how technology supports the adoption of EVs. These payment controls are an essential component of a successful EV charging network. They provide drivers with greater flexibility and accessibility through a variety of convenient, reliable, and affordable payment options, such as mobile payment apps, prepaid cards, and credit cards.

As a result, EV charging becomes more attractive to a wider range of drivers as more people are able to conveniently charge their EVs.

A collaborative future for EV adoption

The global enthusiasm towards EVs is undeniable, with the APAC region emerging as an important growth sector. While challenges persist, collaborative efforts and technological innovations in charging infrastructure, grid stability, and R&D will pave the way for overcoming the barriers to EV adoption. At the same time, governments should also continue to adopt a multifaceted approach in collaborating with smart energy solutions companies on R&D, with the end goals of grid stability and efficient charging infrastructure in mind – a foremost priority for now.

Johnson Luu is the Director of CHINT APAC.

TNGlobal INSIDER publishes contributions relevant to entrepreneurship and innovation. You may submit your own original or published contributions subject to editorial discretion.

Could electric taxis energize tourism development in Laos?