11 Nov 21

EV Readiness South-East Asia

South-East Asian consumers and companies buy 3.5 million cars and 4 million motorcycles per year. This number will increase, as 57 million people will be able to afford motorized transportation before 2030. Almost none of the 7.5 vehicles sold annually in SEA is electric. There are no meaningful incentives, infrastructure is lacking and misconceptions about driving electric are widespread. In addition, a harmonized policy across the region – and the free trade zone ASEAN – is lacking.


Nonetheless, some SEA countries are doing their best, supported by a supply chain eager to break Toyota’s hegemony in the region.

Singapore has implemented a SGD 20.000 (roughly USD 15.000) tax relief from governmental fees for those acquiring an EV instead of an ICE. The country will also be increasing the number of public chargers from the current 2.000 to 60.000 by 2030

Indonesia holds one of the globe’s largest reserves of nickel and has recently opened the market for other parties to co-invest in its mining industry. Companies such as Hyundai have seized the opportunity and will be manufacturing batteries and EVs. The country plans to install 31.000 charging stations by 2030, up from a low 240 chargers today

Thailand, currently the largest car manufacturing country in the region and heavily invested in Toyota, aims to increase the portion of EVs produced in the country to 50% by 2030 and aims to sell only EVs by 2035. Thailand has less than 1000 chargers today, but aims to increase that number to 7.000 chargers “soon”

Philippines is lacking a clear glidepath to electrification. The country only counts 136 chargers today, to increase to 200 chargers by 2022. The lack of an EV law explains the limited uptake

Malaysia has less than 500 chargers today, to be increased to 7.500 chargers according to one source, 125.000 chargers according to a different source. The country is reported to have a Low Carbon Mobility Blueprint, but the enthusiasm to implement seems to be missing

Supply Chain

One of the reasons of SEA’s slow adoption of EVs is the omnipresence of Toyota, that has spoken out against BEV, in favor of hybrid and eventually hydrogen. The Japanese Chamber of Commerce has been urging e.g., the Thai government to take it easy and relax its plans for excessive anti-ICE regulations.

Other companies – Hyundai, Foxconn, Great Wall – are however not waiting and have started to invest in EV or battery manufacturing, hoping to get a piece of the very large Toyota cake.

Are EVs realistic on short term?

The SEA consumer – if they can afford it – are showing more willingness to buy a mild hybrid cars than an EV. Infrastructure (33%), safety (18%) and price point (16%) are mentioned as the main obstacles.

Also, most of the SEA countries produce electricity with coal and continues doing so.

So, concretely, South-East Asia is, at best, ambitious, but not short term…

Authored by: Yves Helven