Electric vehicles (EVs) have been around pretty much as long as the combustion engine, but they’ve come into fashion lately due particularly to climate change. There’s a pressing need to bring down overall carbon emissions, and combustion engine vehicles account for as much as 30% of emissions in Europe.
In terms of EV adoption, Europe is leading the charge with countries such as Norway, Sweden and Denmark offering generous tax incentives. For instance, nearly 60% of new cars sold in Norway in March this year were fully electric. Asia is much further behind, although Hong Kong is a notable exception with a huge Tesla presence.
That’s the thing – research and development (R&D) will always move faster than actual adoption. China is at the forefront of R&D alongside Japan, while Thailand has also recently announced new initiatives to promote itself as an EV production hub.
When Vanda Electrics launched Singapore’s first electric hypercar, the Dendrobium, in 2017, there wasn’t an automotive industry in Singapore. We managed to make a name for ourselves internationally, and perhaps the government took notice. I believe they have plans to develop this sector – having a company like Dyson opening its electric car plant here will really boost the local scene. EVs also encompass more than cars – our longterm focus is on EVs for urban logistics, which explains our electric scooter Motochimp and logistics vehicle Ant Truck.
I do think that people understand the need to switch. But right now, most EVs are not exactly convenient due to a range of different factors such as infrastructure, battery range and charging duration. The current infrastructure in place is mainly based on Tesla’s charging system – it’s certainly advanced, but it’s also 10 years old now. Hence, the dilemma for regulators is: should they base their infrastructure strategy on a tried-and- tested model, or be forward-thinking and bank on a new, faster-charging and more convenient, but currently untested, technology?
It’s a complicated decision. After all, we’re talking in terms of billions of dollars, and countries are effectively changing the entire urban scape by installing charging posts throughout city streets. There’s also the question of grid capacity – it may be overloaded if everyone is charging their EVs after work. It’s best to focus on technology that can be incorporated into existing infrastructure with little or no downtime for consumers. For instance, swappable batteries. Consumer uptake is more likely when people are not inconvenienced.
llustration by Kouzou Sakai
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This article was originally published in the September 2019 issue of Silverkris magazine