ASEAN Battery Conference Wants Collaboration To Encourage Growth In A Region That Is “About To Be Ready” For EVs

The 1st ASEAN Battery and Electric Vehicle Technology Conference (ABEVTC) successfully united six of the region’s leading battery and EV organizations to conduct collaborative research and development activities for energy storage, to promote the growth of the battery industry in ASEAN via a memorandum of understanding.

The inaugural event, which ran from May 9 to 11, brought together the Singapore Battery Consortium (SBC), the National Center for Sustainable Transportation Technology (NCSTT) from Indonesia, the Thailand Energy Storage Technology Association (TESTA), the National Battery Research Institute (NBRI) from Indonesia, NanoMalaysia Berhad, and the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP). Their joint efforts seek to enhance research and development capabilities, as well as foster greater collaboration within the battery industry.

“We are here because as neighbors in the region, historically, we have always cooperated with each other. We have always placed the importance of the whole region forward with each country’s individual initiatives…It will be a good starting point for us all to move together towards economic prosperity in conjunction with sustainable development in an important and fast-growing industry,” Dr. Pimpa Limthongkul, President of the Thailand Energy Storage Technology Association (TESTA) told CleanTechnica.

She also emphasized the significance of the MOU signing, adding that, “The ceremony on battery development between the six leading organizations in Southeast Asia is expected to strengthen collaboration within our region.”

For his part, Dr. Davy Cheong, Director of the Singapore Battery Consortium, expressed the importance of the ASEAN region in the global battery and EV ecosystem, stating, “This tie-up looks to bring various players together, to work in synergy, and provide the right platform for networking, discussions, and collaborations.”

The region is “about to be ready” for EVs as specific countries are formulating or applying their own sustainability goals between 2030 to 2050, according to an industry expert, Jochen Siebert. Some of the major conclusions of the 1st ABEVTC also form eight key recommendations culled from several keynotes that will accelerate the uptake of EVs in the region.

1. Government must maintain and adapt support for electric cars. During the keynote of Kazuyuki Iwata, Executive Chief Engineer Advanced Power Unit Energy, Research Institute, Honda R&D Co., Ltd, Japan, he pointed out Honda’s experience in EV development and why it moved from pure EV to other carbon neutral methods. This reflects the success paths of brands like Tesla and vehicles like the Nissan LEAF.

2. Subsidies cannot be a continuous form of support. While the electric car market matures, direct subsidies should be gradually phased out. Instead, implementing budget-neutral “feebate” programs can be an effective transition policy. These programs tax inefficient internal combustion engine vehicles and utilize the revenue to subsidize low-emission or EV purchases. Additionally, adopting stringent vehicle efficiency and CO2 standards, similar to leading EV markets, is crucial for promoting EV adoption globally. Hirotaka Uchida, Partner & Head of Thailand Automotive and Manufacturing Practice
Arthur D. Little SEA, spoke about the Global Electric Mobility Readiness Index (GEMRIX) of Indonesia. In his keynote he said that price signals and the availability of charging infrastructure can further enhance the economic case for electrification. Governments should prioritize policies that encourage EV adoption in these vehicle segments.

3. Kickstart the transport market. EVs with transport duty — be it a tricycle or an articulated bus — are essential to facilitate the transition in this sector. Examples given by Dr. Jose Bienvenido Manuel M. Biona, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines and a professor of engineering at the De La Salle University, point to this conclusion. Policymakers can stimulate the market by implementing zero-emission vehicle sales mandates, purchase incentives, and CO2 standards. In the Philippines for example, EO 12 — an presidential directive that cuts import duties on EVs and EV peripherals — excludes motorcycles, which the EVAP considers to be a mistake. Correct EV supportive actions in the public transport sector will help accelerate the adoption of bigger vehicles like electric buses and even trains, making them economically competitive across various applications.

4. Promote safety now for both EV and batteries in emerging and developing economies. In emerging and developing economies, prioritizing electrification of two/three-wheelers and urban buses is critical due to their cost competitiveness. During the morning panel sessions on day 2 of the ABEVTC, experts point out battery safety as well as EV safety as one of the “encouragements” needed by the market. Some of the examples showing “burning Teslas” and electrocution at charging stations can altogether be arrested with both technology and owner training. Three sessions under the “Safety Test and Certification” discussions on day 2 covered all forms of battery safety from production, low power micromobility, strength testing, and battery resilience. In his keynote, “Emerging Trends in EV Battery Safety from Conformity Assessment Perspective,” Hadi Sanjaya, Program Manager TÜV SÜD (Thailand), stressed how important a global standardization for safety was needed now, to ensure the safety aspect extended all the way to human resources in the production as well as environmental protection and ensuring that batteries do not add to the regional (and therefore, global) pollution problem. Managing production, use, and disposal using technologies and developing standards for battery monitoring, are examples of this.

5. Expand EV infrastructure, energy storage solutions, and smart grids. To ensure the successful integration of EVs into transportation systems, governments should support the deployment of publicly available charging infrastructure as well as battery manufacturing and energy storage. This support should continue until there are sufficient EVs on the road to sustain the charging network. Equitable access to charging stations should be ensured through regulations, fiscal policies, and support mechanisms. Incentives for home charger installations and mandating EV charging readiness in new buildings are crucial steps. Coordinated plans for grid expansion, digital technologies for two-way communication between EVs and grids, and pricing mechanisms are necessary to maximize the potential of EVs as a resource for grid stability.

6. Recognize markets that may be slow in the uptake of EVs. Jochen Siebert, Managing Director, JSC Automotive, in his talk “EV Battery and EV Charging: Overview Electro-Mobility in ASEAN” was scathing in his details of the problems the ASEAN faces. He mentioned, for instance, how in certain countries, like Malaysia and Indonesia, where fossil fuels are cheap, and a charging infrastructure is not yet present, the uptake will be slower. He gave the example of the Vietnamese EV brand Vinfast promoting itself outside or the region — immediately targeting the US market — but was “rushing through it.” He also said that the region is “about to be ready,” but will take longer to reach a tipping point. In a separate chat, Siebert told CleanTechnica that he believes that building big EVs, like large luxury cars and SUVs, wasn’t a “proper strategy” considering that it only extends the same problems with ICE vehicles — space wasted on the roads with vehicles carrying only one passenger. He is optimistic, however, that countries are specific in clearly setting carbon zero paths for the region.

Malaysian-built electric motorcycles on display at the ABEVTC venue in Bali, Indonesia. (Photo by author)

7. Promoting innovation in alternative chemistries that require fewer critical minerals and implementing extensive battery recycling processes can alleviate supply bottlenecks. Incentivizing battery “rightsizing” and the adoption of smaller cars can also reduce the demand for critical metals. This message was reiterated by Prof. Dr. ret. Nat. Evvy Kartini, Founder of the National Battery Research Institute (NBRI), who highlighted Indonesia’s potential in the battery industry, with abundant reserves of essential minerals. “The collaboration among ASEAN organizations will further enhance Indonesia’s position as a key player in the regional battery market, and the NBRI is eager to contribute to the country’s capacity building and policy advice,” she said.

8. Ensure secure, resilient, and sustainable EV supply chains. As EV adoption grows, the demand for raw materials required in the production of EV components increases. Governments must encourage sustainable mining practices for key battery metals by leveraging private investment and expediting permitting procedures. Prof. Dr. ret. Nat. Evvy Kartini, Founder of National Battery Research Institute (NBRI), said that “the collaboration with other ASEAN organizations is crucial to the development of EVs in the region, understanding each unique situation also mean building a network of knowledge where we can help each other.” She mentioned, as an example, that Indonesia is now a key player in the regional battery market, and being so close to other countries is already a plus, especially for vehicle assembly and sourcing. She further said that strengthening international cooperation, promoting environmentally and socially sustainable practices, and ensuring traceability of key EV components are essential to secure resilient and sustainable EV supply chains, and warned that it isn’t a matter of competition, but readiness to accommodate EVs.

Co-organized by the Singapore Battery Consortium, the National Center for Sustainable Transportation Technology (NCSTT) from Indonesia, and the Thailand Energy Storage Technology Association (TESTA), with the support of Hioki E.E Corporation, a renowned Japanese manufacturer of test and measuring instruments, the three-day conference aspires to bring professionals, academics, and policymakers from ASEAN countries together. It aims to nurture relationships among industry players and establish an ASEAN community for future collaboration.

Signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)between leading ASEAN EV and battery organizations. From left to right, Dr. Leonardo Gunawan, Director of NCSTT (Indonesia); Dr. Davy Cheong, Director, Singapore Battery Consortium; Dr. Pimpa Limthongkul, President Thailand Energy Storage Technology Association (TESTA); Dr. Jose Bienvenido Manuel M. Biona, Executive Director, Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP); Dr. Rezal Khairi Bin Ahmad, Chief Executive Officer of NanoMalaysia Berhad; Prof. Evvy Kartini, Founder of National Battery Research Institute (NBRI) (Indonesia). (Photo by author)


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