Maybank Investment Bank said Monday that it believes ASEAN electric vehicle (EV) adoption will continue to increase due to favorable regulations, local brands and China’s EV makers launching new models at low price points.

The research house said in a note that it reiterated its view that ASEAN automakers, especially those with Chinese partners, could benefit from the EV rush, backed by battery minerals/ecosystem, a large automotive production base and demand.

According to the research house, global electric car sales reached 14 million in 2023, up 34 percent year on year, making up 19 percent of total car sales.

While BloombergNEF forecasts growth to slow in 2024 to 22 percent year on year due to saturation in China and Europe, and uncertainty in the United States ahead of the November presidential election and policy continuity, and weak first quarter sales of leading EV companies confirms this concern, Maybank opined that ASEAN EV sales remained steady.

According to the research house, the ASEAN – six markets reported a 4 times surge in electric car sales to 141,095 in 2023.

Thailand and Vietnam were the top two countries forming 77 percent of the sales.

Thailand reported a 7 times jump in sales to 76,314 cars.

Vietnamese automaker VinFast also sold about 31,700 cars in 2023. 75 percent to 80 percent of its sales was to its car-hailing company.

Meanwhile, Indonesia had Formula E (FE) car sales of 17,062, surged 65 percent year on year in 2023.

Malaysia also saw 10,159 sold, soared 286 percent year on year.

The Philippines was the smallest at 367 FE cars sold.

Of total car sales, Thailand led with FE car sales at 18.8 percent of total.

This was followed by Singapore at 18.1 percent, Vietnam at 12.9 percent, Indonesia at 2.2 percent and Malaysia at 1.4 percent.

Overall, FE share of car sales was 6.2 percent for the ASEAN – six markets in 2023. This versus 1.6 percent in 2022.

As more low-priced EV models are launched in 2024 and 2025, Maybank expects ASEAN’s EV adoption rate to increase further.

Another driver would be direct subsidies to buyers and addition of charging points.

Backed by cost and technology strength, Maybank noted that China’s EV makers became the world’s largest exporters in 2023 and pose a market-share threat to other global automakers from the United States, Japan and South Korea.

China’s EV makers are operating at about 50 percent utilization and have cut prices by introducing EVs at sub-$25,000 in Europe and Asia.

As China and Europe becomes saturated in terms of EV penetration, Maybank opined that it is likely that the Chinese EV makers will increase their presence in ASEAN through cheap imports and by setting up greenfield units to take market share when car buyers in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam switch to electric cars from internal combustion engine cars.

Maybank also reiterated its thesis that regulatory push is key to faster adoption of EVs in ASEAN.

According to the research house, this is clearly visible in the EV adoption in Thailand.

It is noted that Thailand is offering cash subsidy to EV buyers as well as lower excise and import duty for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

The Thai government is also incentivizing local manufacturing.

Meanwhile, Indonesia is offering duty cuts and pushing domestic manufacturing.

According to Maybank, the other way to push EV sales would be to increase prices of gasoline by reducing subsidies, which can be adopted by Malaysia.

Finally, it said cheaper EVs (sub #15,000), a game mastered by Chinese OEMs, will make it difficult for Japanese/Korean OEMs to compete in ASEAN markets.

Maybank also believes companies across automotive, materials, industrials technology and transport could see potential benefits from EV adoption.

MAybank, however, highlighted that most ASEAN countries are lagging in terms of charging infrastructure.

“It is a chicken-and-egg situation with the infrastructure companies awaiting EV sales and customers await a better or more extensive charging infrastructure,” it said.

According to the research house, Vietnam-domiciled Vinfast has built about 150,000 charging points in Vietnam (owned by VinFast) and 800,000 globally, including partnered charging network operators in North America and Europe, as at end 2023. The set-up is a mix of its own points and partnerships.

Thailand has 9,694 charging stations across 15 service providers as of December 2023.

Malaysia has about 1,434 charging stations as of October 2023, which have increased to 2,020 in March 2024. The Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry in the country has set a target of 10,000 stations by end-2025.

Malaysian clean energy firm Gentari has a target to install 9,000 public charging points in Malaysia and India by 2026.

The country’s utility firm Tenaga Nasional also plans to increase its EV charging infrastructure with more than 500 stations in 2025.

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s state-owned power company PLN added 54 public electric charging stations in 2023, taking the total to 624 stations across 411 locations.

Cited the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry in the country, Maybank said the country’s charging and battery swapping infrastructure had reached 2,704 units in 2023, exceeding its target of 1,035 units.

Singapore, on the other hand, has about 2,400 EV charging points across 700 Housing Development Board car parks.

The country’s overall target is 60,000 chargers by 2030, of which 40,000 will be public chargers.

The Philippines has about 338 charging stations. AC Motors (part of Ayala Corp) plans to establish 100 charging stations across select Ayala Land properties and projects nationwide by end-2024.

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