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1 in 3 People in Southeast Asia Will Consider Buying an Electric Vehicle in the Next 3 Years

Barriers to mass adoption of EVs are falling, but more still needs to be done.
IMAGE Nissan
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In 2018, a study by Frost & Sullivan said that nearly half (about 46 percent) of all potential car buyers in the Philippines displayed an openness to buying an electric vehicle (EV). The main motivating factors for widespread adoption include better safety standards, charging flexibility and convenience, and a battery range that is equal to a full tank (of gas). 

In the latest study by the business consulting and market research and analysis firm, nearly two-thirds of survey respondents in Southeast Asia said they are more willing now to consider buying an EV than they were five years ago. In addition, about 37 percent said they would consider an EV as their next car purchase within the next three years.

It might not be an apple-to-apples comparison, but this at least gives us an idea of the rising enthusiasm for EVs in the region. Indeed this was the gist of the second edition of a webinar entitled Nissan Futures—Electrification and Beyond, organized by the Japanese carmaker.

The highlight of the virtual event was the presentation of the latest Frost & Sullivan study commissioned by Nissan on electrified mobility in Southeast Asia. Around 3,000 individuals across six countries in Southeast Asia and 500 in Hong Kong participated in the survey that sought to determine consumer awareness on EVs and understand what would make them switch from vehicles with traditional internal combustion engines (ICE) to EVs.

Photo by Nissan.
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For starters, an overwhelming majority of survey respondents (87 percent) still associate EVs as battery EVs. Only 37 percent are aware of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and Full Hybrids, while 30 percent are familiar with e-Power.

On the question of the intention to buy an EV as their next car, the result in the Philippines dipped only slightly at 45 percent, which was second only to Indonesia (50 percent), while Thailand was at third with 43 percent. 

“One in three people (in the region) will consider purchasing an electrified vehicle in the next three years,” said Vivek Vaidya, associate partner and senior vice president for intelligent mobility of Frost & Sullivan. 

Although there was a dip recorded in the Philippines, Vaidya chalked that up to oil prices declining in 2020 because of the pandemic. Low oil prices mean demand for EVs will also go down, but Vaidya explained that the trend still points to increasing interest and eventual adoption of more EVs in the future. 

For most of the survey respondents, tax benefits represent the most attractive financial incentive that would make them switch to EVs. This, of course, means that governments have a critical role to play in promoting and encouraging the adoption and use of EVs. Other incentives that would encourage consumers to switch include the installation of charging stations in residential buildings (75 percent), priority lanes for EVs (51 percent), free parking (48 percent), toll discounts (48 percent), and concessions on location of parking (35 percent).

On the flipside, Frost & Sullivan also documented the most common drawbacks people cited in their hesitation to fully embrace EVs, although the study also said that there has been a significant decrease in each barrier since 2018: fear of running out of power before reaching a charging station (from 60 percent in 2018 to 48 percent in 2020), concerns about limited public charging infrastructure (54 percent to 45 percent), concerns about the safety of EV technology (from 55 percent to 43 percent), concerns about limited personal charging infrastructure (from 53 percent to 42 percent), ongoing maintenance and operation costs (from 49 percent to 42 percent), and concerns about the reliability of new technology/battery (52 percent to 37 percent).

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The study reflects the growing worldwide trend in EV adoption. In 2020, global sales of EVs rose 43 percent to more than three million compared to 2019, which is remarkable considering that overall vehicle sales fell sharply nearly 15 percent, from 74.9 million units in 2019 to 63.7 million in 2020. 

“Our findings show that consumers generally value the overall driving experience of an electrified vehicle, given their innovative and high-technology features matched with high performance engines,” Vaidya said. “Over time, increased environmental awareness, lower maintenance costs for an electrified vehicle coupled with tax incentives and improved public and private charging facilities will be key motivators for consumers to possibly switch to electrified vehicles, and purchasing one in the near future."

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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