Shell, Toyota, ION Mobility on the “hope and hype” of EVs

It looks like 2021 is the year of electric vehicles (EVs). With Tesla finally entering our shores and more and more charging stations on the island, Singapore is fully embracing this change.

With more technological advancements and Covid-19 precipitating the push for more sustainable forms of urban mobility, electric vehicles are definitely here to stay whether you like it or not.

At a roundtable at SWITCH 2021 titled “The Future of Electric Vehicles” yesterday (November 8), panelists discussed the complexities of adopting electric vehicles, the transition to an electrified future, the feasibility of this decision and the obstacles it entails.

The panel consisted of Amr Adel, Senior Vice President Mobility East at Shell, James Chan, Founder and CEO of ION Mobility, Prasanna Ganesh, Executive Vice President at Toyota Asia, and moderated by Dale Hardcastle, Co-Director, Global Sustainability Innovation. Center at Bain & Company

A year of “hope” and “hype”

Toyota Asia Executive Vice President Prasanna Ganesh began the discussion by calling this year “hope” and “hype”. He cites the past 18-20 months as an unprecedented time when we have faced a life-changing pandemic and the effects of climate change can no longer be ignored.

For Prasanna, it has been a hopeful year as many governments have made commitments to her net-zero in the context of mobility. To add to this, many new technologies have received the attention and funding to develop.

Many new electrified products are announced, (and) new battery chemistries and technologies, including some policies, are advancing.

I am personally very happy to see the progress we are making on hydrogen. Investments are now being rewarded for being green and the fastest growing segments are in the areas of fighting climate change.

Prasanna Ganesh, Executive Vice President of Toyota Asia

While Prasanna acknowledged the progress that has been made in the EV sector and green energy in general, he also noted areas where it has failed.

“The discussion on decarbonization often focuses only on banners and slogans, and real action on the ground has not been a priority,” he said.

The discussion has no nuance on how to decarbonize while maintaining mobility which requires economic transition, sustainability of industry and customer choice. As is the case in the age of social media, this discussion is often separated from the real problem for a bite-sized simplification.

Prasanna Ganesh, Executive Vice President of Toyota Asia

Despite these glaring pitfalls, Prasanna remains hopeful for the future of electric vehicles, which is moving towards carbon neutrality.

What is stopping the movement towards decarbonization

Decarbonization of the electric vehicle
Image Credit: SWITCH 2021

After all, the end goal of electrification is decarbonization. In order to move forward towards this goal, we must first understand where these CO2 emissions come from.

Prasanna has reduced it to two big elements in a decarbonization formula: vehicle CO2 emissions and total distance traveled.

When it comes to reducing vehicle CO2 emissions For many policymakers and industry players in describing their approach to carbon neutrality, they would often declare the heavy or even outright adoption of battery electric vehicles.

Even if Prasanna agrees that “zero tailpipe emissions, whether electric vehicles or battery electric vehicles is one of the optimal solutions to be implemented”, these remain “strongly dependent on energy mix “.

Various studies have shown that until renewables reach a significant part of a country’s energy grid, a powerful hybrid electric vehicle could be an equally beneficial or better alternative, given the emissions from battery production. and electric charge. Unfortunately, despite encouraging growth in renewables, most Asian countries are still heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

Prasanna Ganesh, Executive Vice President of Toyota Asia

The second major element is the distance traveled. Regarding the number and type of product trends, Prasanna cites critical factors such as affordability, usage patterns and available infrastructure.

He sees the potential of electric vehicles powered by renewable energy for personal use and even logistics.

“We need to maximize all low carbon technologies that can support mass deployment to policymakers and industry should adopt and support all electrified or low carbon technologies.”

However, for a sustainable transition to an EV future, a lot depends on customer acceptance.

“A lot of people talk about TCO (total cost of ownership), but not many people can actually afford a vehicle that gives you a TCO of years or seven years. People need to make sure they are able to move through the product which could be lower in emissions fairly quickly. ”

In this perspective, Toyota wishes to offer multiple paths towards carbon neutrality. Carbon neutrality is the goal, stressed Prasana.

An integrated approach towards an electric future

amr adel shell
Image Credit: SWITCH 2021

Amr Adel, Senior Vice President Mobility East at Shell, shared Prasanna’s feelings of decarbonization as Shell also moves towards a net zero carbon footprint by 2050.

For Shell, they have been incredibly busy in terms of innovation and creativity “in terms of managing and implementing the energy transition”.

“I have seen a clear movement towards dialogue and the understanding that there is a migration from slogans to actions and implementations on the ground,” said Amr. To understand the evolution towards an electrified future, it is necessary to know that the solution must be multidimensional.

It has been wonderful to see and observe that there is now a clear realization, from my perspective, that there is no intention of an isolated solution. It’s a multi-dimensional solution that actually involves and dictates that everyone play that tune, be it governments, society, industry players and, by all means, customers.

Amr Adel, Senior Vice President of Eastern Mobility at Shell

To alleviate our current carbon problems, he stressed that we cannot rely solely on the energy sector to solve the problem. It is impractical and unrealistic for the world to immediately stop using fossil fuels and diesel.

Instead, this is an energy transition, and more time needs to be given to allow the EV infrastructure to grow to one to scale that can support the current appetite.

“It offers a mosaic of opportunities for low carbon emissions, LNG (liquefied natural gas), hydrogen and electric vehicle charging. Then, work together in synchronization with governments and industry players.

Electric motorcycles and their unique challenges

James chan ion mobility
Image Credit: SWITCH 2021

When it comes to electric vehicles, things get even more interesting when you add electric motorcycles to the mix. For James Chan, Founder and CEO of ION Mobility, two-wheeled e-bikes also present their share of unique challenges.

Despite the pandemic which slowed down social and economic activity during the pandemic, the number of personal mobility devices remained healthy. There were groups of motorcycle bikes that sold out completely, but sales of electric motorcycles remained low.

“This tells us that there is still a gap between the desirability and affordability of what is currently available in the market and what consumers want to pay for,” James said.

Given that motorcycles are sold more than six times in Southeast Asia compared to cars, I think we have selected this interesting space on which to bring us a first material enterprise which hopefully can evolve over time. time to become a software company.

James Chan, CEO of ION Mobility

Electric vehicles, electric bicycle Ionic mobility
Image credit: ION Mobility

When it comes to owning an electric vehicle, one of the limits is always the lack of charging stations. James acknowledged that the problem extended to motorcycles, but unlike electric cars, the battery in motorcycles is 10 to 20 times smaller.

In addition, in the B2B motorcycle space, battery exchange is a solution. However, for the B2C space, most people would need to use their phone to secure a place.

To combat this, James believes the solution lies somewhere in between. “It won’t be whole exchanges. You don’t want to have that much lithium and nickel in the grid waiting for you. It’s not quite like gasoline, you can just pour it, ”he explained.

One of the advantages of having an electric motorcycle is that it can be recharged from the wall outlet. With these automotive grade motorcycles, James thinks we can have the electrified grid as the best distribution with increased trade as the way forward.

For him, the answer lies in carbon offsets and the space for renewable energy certificates.

Between our CERs and carbon offsets. I don’t see them as one or the other. I see that the carbon offset journey is much longer. I see the REC trip being much faster. Because not everyone will have the luxury of land, technology and infrastructure to produce all the green energy they want.

James Chan, CEO of ION Mobility

The field of electric vehicles is a rapidly developing field where innovation is constantly happening and new developments are happening every day.

When it comes to adopting electric vehicles, there is a lot of variability and there is no quick and easy answer or one-size-fits-all approach. a more sustainable world.

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Featured Image Credit: Screenshot of SWITCH 2021 by Vulcan Post

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