Electric Vehicles (EV) have become a promising transport alternative to fossil fuels. Utilising electricity as automobile power input, EV’s have revolutionised transportation globally as they offer a significant reduction in GHG emissions and air pollutants. Automobility advancements have not stopped at electrification but are also pursuing more mobility breakthroughs such as automated and shared mobility.
To unveil the potential for the future, the Facilitating the Development of Ambitious Transport Mitigation Actions (TRANSfer III) project, along with CharIN and the Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand (EVAT), organised a session on the Future of Electric Mobility on 15 October 2021 as part of ASEAN Sustainable Week. This session invited pioneering mobility experts from Thailand and around the world.
The session covered a wide range of topics and aspects related to sustainable transport electrification. Starting the session, Mr. Krisada Kritayakirana (UMT) shared the company’s development of Muvmi and the approaches that integrate microtransit electromobility. Mr. Prempreedee Kitirattrakarn (PTT ExpresSo) speculated on an ample number of incoming business opportunities as electric automobile technology continues to grow.
“As electrified-automotive business has the potential to become ‘economically viable”, there is a need for intra-network collaborations on a complete EV supply chain in order for large-scale transport adoption to commence,” said PTT ExpresSo’s Prempreedee Kitirattrakarn. This can lead to new business models and opportunities, especially for public transportation. To promote this, government agencies can play an active role to “enrich collaboration between the private and public sectors as well as in mitigating investment risks for new business ideas and start-up companies spearheading the automobile industry.”
Giving an international point of view, Dr. Andy Palmer (Switch Mobility) introduced the initiatives in establishing electricity-powered mass transportation in the UK and India in order to create more EV product choices for the consumer and increase market competitiveness against China, while Mr. Jacques Borremans (CharIN) spoke about public transport EV charging infrastructure development. Lastly, Mr. Marvin Stolz (GIZ) discussed the prospects for automobile technology and digitalization and progressive impacts, or the so-called Ride Sharing system, which increases the service efficacy in future transportation.
While electric vehicle technology and EV infrastructure – including EV chargers and smart autonomous applications – have progressed, EV expansion is significantly dependent on state support for EV deployment and the setting up of infrastructure.
Especially with regard to the development of public transportation facility and infrastructure, Dr. Dominika Kalinowska (GIZ) believes this will “create significant shifts from individual vehicle users to use public transportation and lead to improvements in life and air quality in the city. Both the Thai and international panelists, therefore, agreed that that the state must take a clear stance on policy support and incentive programmes on automotive electrification, not least because transparency on the framework and support conditions will have a crucial impact on the future mobility layout”.
The panelists agreed that shared, autonomous, and electric vehicles offer a bright future for sustainable public transport and green recovery after the pandemic and will further support the decarbonization of the transport sector in the future without leaving individual mobility needs and demand behind.
Another aspect highlighted was the concept of shared and autonomous vehicles. With the advancements in digital technologies, public transport operators can aim not only to electrify their fleets but also to adapt their services and tailor these to the needs of users (on-demand service), to encourage sharing of vehicles among users to cut costs and increase efficiency in commuting.
In addition to the panel discussion, there was another interesting discussion on how EVs can be supported from several dimensions to be able to better contribute to a carbon neutral society while in the Taiwan Mobility Session, experts from both Thailand and Taiwan exchanged information on advancing mobility technology. The current progress is remarkable. In Taiwan, autonomous buses are doing a test run, manufacturers are improving motor and battery performance, and development on IT solutions, automotive obstacle detection radars and an intelligent parking system through smartphones are taking place. For Thailand, options for the promotion of charging infrastructure are being explored and GPS tracker, a technology from Taiwan, has been introduced and has already been tested on EV boats.
In line with the global trends, the Thai automotive sector is taking measures to expedite EV advancement in the hope that, as Dr. Krisda Utamote (EVAT) pointed out, “aiming for clean transportation through e-mobility could adhere to climate goals and stimulate economic growth in the automotive sector in Thailand”. In response to domestic and international anticipation, the Thai government sets an ambitious target to achieve 100% production of zero-emission electric vehicles by 2035.
GIZ TRANSfer project supports the Thai Government in the creation of the Thai Clean Mobility Programme with the aim to encompass the ‘Push and Pull Approach’, signifying a ‘Push’ to reduce individual vehicle users and a ‘Pull’ to make public transport an attractive option with focuses on: (1) Introduction and usage of electrified buses; (2) Reducing the number of private vehicles; and (3) Establishing a Sustainable Transport Fund to improve public transportation as well as presenting a replica for sustainable mobility projects in other Thai cities.