A panel of experts conclude that enhanced location intelligence will be the breakthrough needed for EVs to take off in SEA

At a recent panel discussion on South-east Asia’s electric vehicle (EV) development landscape, industry experts concurred on the trend that the aggregation of information within the EV ecosystem — powered by “location intelligence” will be essential for achieving higher penetration rates. 

The panelists also agreed that location intelligence is key to developing a localized digital EV ecosystem that goes beyond supporting only electric four-wheelers (E4Ws). Local nuances such as traffic and weather conditions are also useful for other types of EVs such as electric two-wheelers or those used by fleet management companies that are not typically E4Ws.

Echoing the fact that multiple factors play a part in reducing EV ‘range anxiety’, Anuj Jain, Strategy & Business Development Leader, AWS Automotive & Manufacturing, said there needs to be an entire digital ecosystem that proactively feeds information and solutions to an EV driver: “Be it the charging infrastructure outside of the EV; various vehicle parameters like remaining battery capacity or range; or the environmental factors like real-time traffic updates, a digital ecosystem needs to come together to process these data points and bring a result to the user of the vehicle so that on a real-time basis, the driver gets the best possible guidance on his destination journey without the need to investigate further.” 

Jain noted that, back in 2010, “when Singapore was first planning for EV charging infrastructure, a lot went into selecting the locations of charge points. We discovered a general rule of thumb for building EV charge points: it was best to situate them in areas with maximum footfall, such as popular restaurants, coffee shops or shopping malls.”

Tapping location intelligence

From an automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) point of view, a panelist from Nissan noted that the location intelligence provided through its partners ensures that the firm’s EV customers get the most out of their EVs. Isao Sekiguchi, Regional Vice President Marketing and Sales (ASEAN) and President of Nissan Motor Thailand, added: “Mobility environments and urban infrastructures are different in different markets. We are working with the relevant partners to solve the unique situations by market.”

The aggregation of information using location intelligence will go a long way in minimizing EV range anxiety and encourage more uptakes in the technology across sectors, said panelist Abhijit Sengupta, Senior Director and Head of Business for Southeast Asia and India, HERE Technologies, the organizer of the panel discussion. “Depending on the type of EV one is driving and the goals one is trying to achieve, a digital EV ecosystem will provide much more information to the drivers than just the location of the vehicle.” 

Genuine environmental commitment needed

When it comes to boosting EV adoption rates, the panelists concluded that the business-to-business ecosystem also has a role to play in setting the example for others to follow, compared to the business-to-consumer ecosystem. For example, delivery firms with a genuine environmental commitment are exploring the use of EVs in their delivery fleet, and this can influence EV take-up down the line. 

According to panel moderator Vivek Vaidya, Global Client Leader for Mobility, Frost & Sullivan:  “There is the opinion that B2B electrification will happen a lot faster than B2C use cases. That’s because the use cases of these fleets are clearly defined — they can be delivery vehicles, hence they move within specific areas; their mobility patterns are more predictable in terms of usage, mileage and location. In many cases, it is also down to governments to take the initiative, such as electrifying public transport fleets first to show that this works, in order for other use cases like passenger EVs to follow.” 

Regardless of whether B2B or B2B ecosystem are more influential, location intelligence will always be part of the EV and software-defined vehicle innovation journey, the panel surmised.