MOVE is hosting a series of virtual seminars, as its Asia and America events are postponed until September. Lux attended the first seminar series covering the role of automakers in the future of mobility, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and autonomous and electric vehicles in Asia.
The participation of automakers, charging infrastructure providers, and mobility-as-a-service companies represented the evolving mobility ecosystem. Over the course of three days, multiple topics were presented, ranging from the possible eradication of the automotive market as we know it today to the rise of autonomous vehicles in Asia. Through all the perspectives discussed, Lux highlights three key takeaways.
In her opening statement, Melika Jahangiri of Wunder Mobility said that her family has been a zero-car home for more than five years now – an extraordinary feat, especially for a resident of Los Angeles. At the root of the lifestyle change was the emergence of ride-sharing and micromobility services, such as Lime and Bird, available in her region.
While burgeoning urban populations have driven the recent deployments of shared micromobility, Lux believes it remains only a singular piece of an increasingly multimodal transport system and is not a universal solution due to variations in populations, geographies, and use cases. Christopher Heiser of Renovo added that the evolution of mobility also goes against the historical business model of automakers, putting increasing pressure on the industry to shift away from purely selling vehicles to providing services to their customers.
One major development in this arena occurred last year with Daimler and BMW forming a new joint venture that pooled together both companies' existing shared mobility services and committing $1 billion to enhancing its portfolio of service-based mobility offerings. However, David Lantz of Scania Southeast Asia offered a unique perspective from the commercial vehicle space, claiming that it is currently more prepared for the potential changes to car ownership, citing that while passenger vehicle utilization rates are historically low, the company's commercial vehicle offerings are nearly fully utilized outside of regular maintenance and repair, as it has revamped its approach to operating as a fleet service provider instead of selling vehicles directly to end users. The future of mobility is changing drastically, highlighted by different types of sharing-focused and service-based business models that automakers must embrace in a potentially zero-car home world.
Outside of China, electric vehicle adoption in Asia still remains in the nascent stages. China's plug-in vehicle policies have been among the most important in the world, helping create the largest market for plug-in vehicles. While Singapore will be unable to match China in market size, it has announced initiatives to go all-electric. Henrik Wigermo of BMW Asia said that the Singapore government plans to provide more than 28,000 public charging stations by 2030 but emphasized that public charging stations only offer customers the psychological comfort of owning an electric vehicle, citing that more than 90% of BMW's electric vehicles are charged at home.
On the other hand, India has the potential to match China's market size, but despite ongoing efforts from the government to promote a domestic electric vehicle industry, Wybren van der Vaart of BrightBlu stated that the Indian market continues to struggle to grow. He said that the Indian market is extremely cost-sensitive and that the supply of electric vehicles for Indian consumers remains extremely low, and the cost difference from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles is still far too large.
Aside from cost, charging infrastructure remains a major concern for consumers, and a cohesive ecosystem has yet to be established for charging standardization and deployment. Jacques Borremans of CharIN emphasized the importance of collaboration among automakers, grid operators, transmission system operators, and hardware and software developers to develop a universal charging standard, dynamic load management, and secured payment platform. For instance, India's electric vehicle charging standard is specific to Indian manufactured electric vehicles, which differs from more widely used standards like CCS, CHAdeMO, and GB/T.
Lux expects that consolidation will start to occur to stimulate the industry, such as the formation of ChaoJi from Asia's two largest standards. While the panelists agreed on what should happen, the how was still up for debate. Whether automakers, utilities, or the oil and gas industry that dominate the retail fuel stations today should take ownership of public charging infrastructure remains a key question, as utilization rates for public charging stations remain low and unprofitable for operators.
Autonomous and electric vehicles have historically been closely linked, with Lux forecasting the convergence of the two back in 2015. However, unlike in 2015, the rise of ride- and car-sharing companies appears to be expediting the process. with several of Asia's regional giants, such as Grab and Didi, leading the push for electrification and autonomy.
Tiong Say Ng of BlueSG, a car-sharing service, discussed how the company has deployed nearly 700 electric vehicles in Singapore and built more than 1,300 charging stations across the country. Punit Goyal from Blu Smart Mobility echoed the same sentiments, stating that the company has been able to navigate around the common pitfalls of personal electric vehicle ownership and charging infrastructure operations by optimizing its fleet with charging companies, with a claimed 94% utilization rate for the latter. The panelists agreed that ride- and car-sharing operators will play a key role in bringing electric vehicles to the market, especially as governments begin to subsidize those that prioritize electric vehicles over ICE vehicles.
However, when it came to autonomy, differences of opinion dominated the outlook. Singapore's success in deployment of autonomous vehicles for point-to-point transfers on university campuses and tourist attractions was called out, but the potential for such deployment was also quickly shot down as unrealistic in major cities in Asia, such as Manila, Jakarta, Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangkok, citing both technical and regulatory challenges. Autonomous vehicles in Asia will vary country by country due to drastic differences in infrastructure and government support and are unlikely to see a universal solution.
The momentum and enthusiasm for autonomous and electric vehicles are clearly strong. Autonomous vehicles have made several major breakthroughs with regard to technology milestones and regulations in the past few years, and electric vehicles are no longer a niche segment of the automotive industry, approaching 2 million in annual sales. However, for widespread deployment and adoption to occur, it is becoming clear that no single industry will drive the future of mobility. A full ecosystem will be required, including automakers, charging infrastructure operators, utilities and grid operators, mobility-as-a-service providers, as well as governments and regulatory bodies.
Join Lux Research at MOVE America in Austin, Texas, on September 1 and 2 and MOVE Asia in Singapore on September 9 and 10. See our upcoming industry events page for the latest updates on industry events Lux Research will be attending.
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