TDEM VP: Greater collaboration needed for EV growth in SEA

Peng Chen, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: AFP

Southeast Asia has been the emerging market that EV makers target, but some enablers are required for a takeoff. Pras Ganesh, executive vice president in charge of business transformation of Toyota Daihatsu Engineering & Manufacturing (TDEM), said greater collaboration across countries, regulators and industry stakeholders is critical to scale up EV markets in the region.

He recently accepted an email interview with DIGITIMES Asia to talk about Toyota's EV strategies and the opportunities and trends he has seen in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to Ganesh, Thailand-based TDEM provides business and product planning, development, procurement and manufacturing support for Toyota. The company and Toyota Motor Asia Pacific (TMAP) work together as a management and support office for about 20 countries in the region.

In early August this year, Toyota launched the new Yaris Ativ in Thailand. The vehicle is based on the Toyota Standard but represents the mutual efforts and learnings from Toyota and Daihatsu.

Greater consolidation of SEA market may be required

Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand are poised to be the new EV manufacturing hub. Indonesia, which boasts its nickel resources, also gains a significant presence in the industry. However, the region is still early when it comes to vehicle electrification.

Ganesh said various enablers need to be considered when scaling up the EV market and achieving the ultimate purpose of decarbonization. The factors include a country's availability of renewable energy, its energy policy and infrastructure development.

The economic challenge of getting customer acceptance toward EVs is also a key factor, according to Ganesh.

"Because of the various issues to gain scale, greater consolidation of the market across ASEAN may be required without trade barriers or enforcing potentially unfeasible localization requirements till scale is gained," the executive VP said.

He added that greater collaboration across countries, regulatory departments and industry stakeholders will be imperative to successfully grow the EV segment in their respective markets.

Evolving mobility needs will drive vehicle demand

As one of the fastest-growing regions, Asia's automotive industry progresses constantly. According to Ganesh, three key trends are dominating the region:

a. Higher interest and demand for electric vehicles

b. Growing mobility service

c. Greater connectivity with IoT

He said car makers have accelerated the development and launch of new electrified models due to climate change concerns and consumers' higher interest in vehicles that offer alternative energy options.

The move to electrified mobility is a mid-to-long-term journey. Ganesh said every auto market is diverse and some consumers or countries have mobility needs or economic circumstances that constrain their choices.

With the core value of "Mobility for All," he said Toyota will offer multiple types of electric vehicles, including hybrid EVs (HEV), plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEV), battery EVs (BEV) and fuel cell EVs (FCEV).

The automaker will also provide alternative energy vehicles such as bio-fuel blended HEVs, Ganesh said. In the future, it aims to offer internal combustion engine vehicles with E-fuel or hydrogen.

E-commerce and shared delivery have boomed because of COVID. Ganesh said the mobility service will continue to evolve as "work from anywhere" and other new ways of working remain.

"There will be different mobility services appearing quickly and herein lies the need for vehicles to be more flexible, customizable and adjustable for different types of demand," he added.

Connectivity is another trend that is prevalent in mobility. He said customers are familiar with it in their daily life. For example, countries like Thailand have the highest rate of active social media users globally. In addition, the young generation in India, Indonesia and Vietnam are digital-savvy and expect greater connectivity in their mobility options.

He said by 2023, the number of connected cars is expected to increase to 352 million globally, with a surge in demand for personalized in-vehicle digital experiences. With built-in connectivity, vehicles can provide a safer and seamless experience for drivers, passengers and surrounding road users.

Collaboration with Suzuki in India

Toyota and Suzuki Motor formed a global business alliance in 2017. The pair recently rolled out its first Strong HEV SUV in India using Toyota Hybrid System.

When asked how the collaboration with Suzuki can benefit Toyota's presence in India, Ganesh said Suzuki has been the market leader in India for many years and has an excellent understanding of the market's needs.

He said the two companies have been working behind the scenes to develop technologies and utilize some assets collaboratively in India even though they are still competitors in the market.

"Together with Suzuki, we can do much more in providing multiple low-carbon powertrain options to the market," Ganesh said.

He also said with Toyota's technology and Suzuki's scale, they can accelerate India's decarbonization while building electrification and other relevant industries that could meet India's national interest, including "Make in India."

Pras Ganesh is the executive vice president of Toyota Daihatsu Engineering & Manufacturing

Pras Ganesh is the executive vice president of Toyota Daihatsu Engineering & Manufacturing. Credit: TDEM

Credit: TDEM