Analysis: APAC Consumers' Public Perception and Confidence in Electric Vehicles
The wheels of innovation are turning, and the world is witnessing a paradigm shift toward sustainable transportation. Amid this global transition, electric vehicles (EVs) have emerged as a revolutionary force, promising a cleaner and greener future for the automotive industry.
In the APAC region, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines are unique players, each navigating distinct challenges and opportunities in pursuing widespread EV adoption. From constrained charging infrastructure to concerns about range anxiety and perceptions of high costs, the intricacies of their reluctance shed light on the complexities of paving the way toward an electrified future.
A key factor primarily shapes Malaysia's reluctance to embrace electric vehicles (EVs).
Infrastructure must be ready. Charging stations in current gasoline station locations. Power plant ready for additional supply load and affordable electricity price. Slow transition pls. Pushing the ESG policy forcefully is the source of the current energy crisis in the EU.— Speedy Justice⚖️ (@lawyerforfree) December 9, 2022
The constrained charging infrastructure presents a noteworthy obstacle. In 2021, the Malaysian government's efforts to boost EV adoption included the goal of installing 125,000 public charging stations nationwide by 2030, which aimed to address the scarcity of charging facilities and provide more convenience to EV owners, especially in non-urban areas. Major cities like Kuala Lumpur and Penang have higher concentrations of public charging stations, but rural and less developed regions in Malaysia face challenges in accessing charging facilities. This disparity underscored the need to expand the charging network to cater to a broader range of consumers. According to the Malaysian Green Technology Corporation (GreenTech Malaysia), as of 2021, there were around 500 public EV charging stations installed across the country. While this was an improvement compared to previous years, it highlighted the relatively limited availability of charging infrastructure at that time.
Despite efforts to improve the charging infrastructure, some EV owners in Malaysia reported instances of non-functioning or poorly maintained charging stations. This raised concerns among potential buyers about the reliability of charging facilities and reinforced the need for consistent infrastructure development and maintenance.
Similar to Malaysia, Indonesian consumers also encounter reservations when it comes to embracing EVs, primarily attributed to concerns about range anxiety and inadequate charging infrastructure.
To be fair, when I bought mine 4 years ago, part of the sales pitch was that modern diesel technology meant that it was less polluting than petrol equivalents. I suspect many people believed it. I just tried to replace it with an EV but a 9 month waiting list and too expensive.— Andy Wheatley (@Andy_Wheatley) June 19, 2022
Most of Indonesia's existing charging infrastructure is concentrated in urban areas and major cities, such as Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung. This urban-centric approach leaves out many rural and non-urban regions, limiting the feasibility of EV ownership for consumers living outside major metropolitan areas. Indonesia's vast geographical landscape poses challenges for EV adoption, particularly with regard to range anxiety, where drivers worry about the limited range of EVs and the availability of charging stations. According to the Indonesia Electric Vehicle Roadmap 2020-2030, Indonesia aimed to establish 25,000 public charging stations by 2030. However, the country is still facing obstacles in achieving this target, primarily due to substantial installation expenses involved in setting up charging infrastructure across the archipelago. With over 17,000 islands, Indonesia's dispersed population and uneven distribution of resources have hindered the rapid deployment of charging stations, leading to concerns among consumers, particularly in non-urban areas, about the practicality and convenience of owning an EV.
In Singapore, there is a notable inclination among individuals to transition from traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles to Electric Vehicles (EVs), primarily driven by environmental considerations. Plus, unlike Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, Singapore's smaller geographical size alleviates concerns about limited EV range, contributing to a higher willingness to embrace EV technology.
Singapore has actively promoted EV adoption to address environmental concerns and reduce carbon emissions by introducing the "Vehicular Emissions Scheme" (VES) in 2018. The VES incentivizes the purchase of cleaner vehicles, including EVs, by offering rebates and discounts based on their carbon emissions, encouraging many environmentally-conscious individuals to consider EVs as a greener alternative to traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles. Additionally, the Singaporean government has invested significantly in developing a robust charging infrastructure across the nation. One notable initiative is the "Electric Vehicle Early Adoption Incentive" (EEAI), which provides financial support to businesses and individuals for installing EV charging points on their premises.
However, despite the positive incentives, the high vehicle taxes in Singapore remain a major challenge for potential EV buyers. Singapore employs a system called the "Certificate of Entitlement" (COE), which is a quota system for vehicle ownership. COEs are auctioned, and their high costs significantly impact the final price of EVs, making them considerably more expensive than in countries without such systems. This pricing disparity can discourage budget-conscious consumers from opting for EVs.
It can be done with less battery range. The most expensive component of any electric vehicle is always the batteries. Less batteries also means range anxiety. Which makes EV cars less useful as a utility. Cars are not like eBikes where you can still use pedals as propulsion.— Chris Bautista (@chris_bautista) April 17, 2023
In the Philippines, the perception that EVs are expensive is often influenced by the limited availability of affordable EV models in the market. As a result, many car owners tend to associate EVs with premium or luxury brands that come with higher price tags. For instance, premium EVs like the Tesla Model S or the Jaguar I-PACE, while offering excellent performance and advanced features, are out of reach for the average consumer due to their premium pricing.
Additionally, the lack of government incentives and subsidies for EV adoption can further contribute to the belief that EVs are costly. In countries where governments offer attractive incentives such as tax breaks, rebates, or reduced registration fees for EV owners, the perceived cost of ownership becomes more manageable. However, in the Philippines, such incentives are limited, making the upfront costs of EVs less appealing to potential buyers.
Furthermore, the availability of charging infrastructure plays a crucial role in shaping the perceptions of EV affordability. The Philippines is an archipelago with a diverse geographical landscape, and the lack of a well-developed charging network can create concerns about the convenience and accessibility of charging an EV. Without a widespread and efficient charging infrastructure, car owners may hesitate to invest in an EV, even if the vehicle's long-term operational costs are lower than those of conventional vehicles.
To delve deeper into the insights on EV adoption reluctance in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines, data from social media and online platforms have been harnessed through Digimind's social listening capabilities. Through social listening, brands can access a treasure trove of information directly from their target audience, gaining valuable and real-time information about what their consumers say and share online. Read Digimind's latest report," Shifting Towards Sustainability: APAC Automobiles' Great Green Acceleration," to find out more.
Digimind's social listening tools enable brands to detect trends, spot emerging concerns, and identify consumer behavior patterns. This valuable data empowers brands to make informed decisions, shape their marketing strategies, and tailor their offerings to address the specific concerns and preferences of their target audience in each APAC country, allowing them to stay attuned to the voice of their consumers and chart a course towards a more sustainable and consumer-centric electric vehicle future in the APAC region.
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