Why telematics is the key to EV adoption in Southeast Asia

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are growing in popularity, and it’s clear they’ll play a major role in transport in Southeast Asia in the coming years. In fact, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) recently agreed to develop a regional EV ecosystem, formalising an existing region-wide push towards more environmentally friendly vehicles.

However, they currently account for less than 2% of cars in Southeast Asia, and the infrastructure needed to support them is still in its infancy.

For fleet managers, the decision to switch is complex. They must ensure that EVs not only reduce their carbon footprint but also meet operational objectives in a cost-effective manner.

For this reason, telematics is essential. It empowers fleet managers to make informed decisions about which cars to purchase and which to retire.

A fast-growing market 

EVs are gaining momentum in Southeast Asia, driven by growing concern over carbon emissions among businesses, governments, and consumers. Thailand and Indonesia have the largest domestic markets, each selling close to a million units a year.

The region is also becoming a hub for manufacturing. By 2025 Indonesia aims to export 200,000 EVs, accounting for roughly 20% of all its car exports. In May 2022, Indonesia signed a deal with Tesla to build a battery and EV plant in Central Java. Vietnam’s VinFast is attempting to sell its cars in the United States using a unique battery rental model.

However, challenges exist. In Singapore, the country is limited by available land area for charging infrastructure. Elsewhere in the region, Indonesia and the Philippines grapple with congestion, making EVs less appealing due to stop-and-go traffic and frequent idling, which decrease their efficiency and impact battery range.

Maintenance costs may be higher than those for conventional cars due to a lack of experts trained to fix EVs. High demand for electricity during peak traffic hours could also strain the electricity infrastructure.

The climate in Southeast Asia is not ideal for EVs. The optimum temperature for battery performance is around 17°C, which is considered cold by local standards. For instance, Singapore has never recorded a temperature below 19°C.

How telematics can help 

All these factors complicate the decision-making process for fleet managers contemplating the switch from combustion engines to EVs. It’s often too costly or impractical to transition an entire fleet at once. However, telematics enables fleet managers to make informed decisions about which cars to retain and which to retire

Telematics merges telecommunications and informatics to facilitate the collection and transmission of data from vehicles. This enables remote monitoring, diagnostics, range management, charging infrastructure navigation, and predictive maintenance alerts. It also enhances safety, efficiency, and convenience across the entire EV ecosystem.

It can inform business decisions for fleet managers, who need to know that the replacement vehicle will do the same job, offer a comparable range, and bring in more money for the business in the long run.

Telematics removes the guesswork from this transition by providing transparency over emissions, fuel consumption, and maintenance costs for existing combustion-engine cars. It also helps managers assess the potential costs or savings of switching to an EV. 

Telematics solutions will enable fleet managers across the region to compare their existing fleet with new local options, while also providing data on the price and average monthly operating costs for each vehicle. This simplifies the evaluation of options that best meet their needs.

Moreover, once the switch to EVs is made, remote monitoring and diagnostics capabilities offer access to real-time data, enabling timely and effective vehicle maintenance. Telematics also optimises range management, alleviating the common concern of range anxiety and boosting confidence in EV usage.

More broadly, telematics could contribute to the successful integration of EVs into the transport ecosystem by offering insights that facilitate efficient infrastructure development, thereby fostering a more convenient and accessible EV charging network.

An exciting road ahead 

As the climate crisis intensifies, the demand for cleaner transport options is becoming increasingly apparent. The rise of EVs in Southeast Asia is an exciting development that could stimulate growth while helping the region meet its carbon commitments.

Telematics will facilitate the expansion of EVs by providing both large and small fleet managers with the transparency they need to transition successfully. It will also assist governments in assessing their infrastructure needs.