How Asia is making the shift to sustainable transport

The shift to sustainable transport is gaining momentum across the world. Asia is taking huge steps in cleaning up its transport industry, here’s how…

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for a dramatic change in the mobility industry to sustainable transport. It is clear to see many countries and businesses are making this needed shift to e-mobility.

With Europe targeting the transport industry in their post-COVID-19 recovery, CleanTech News wanted to explore how other continents were following suit. 

It comes as no shock that Asia, the world’s biggest continent, is taking key steps to clean up their transport industry. Here are some innovative examples showing how Asia is committed to a sustainable future…

EVs to transform the backbone of Southeast Asias auto sector

Electric vehicles (EVs) will reshape Thailand’s auto industry post-COVID-19. The pandemic is accelerating the transformation of Thailand’s automotive industry as it has highlighted the need for a switch to EVs.

Regarded as the ‘backbone of Southeast Asia’s auto sector’, Thailand’s auto-related businesses are reopening after months of coronavirus shutdowns. The industry, which employs 900,000 people in Thailand, is also promising relief for many laid-off workers.

Thailand appeared to be committed to sustainable transport before the coronavirus outbreak. The government targeted EV production, aiming for 750,000 vehicles by 2030 to curb pollution in the country. 

Only last month, truck-chassis maker, Sammitr Group, received approval for a $170 million project. This project is to make 30,000 battery-powered vehicles a year in a joint venture with a Chinese company.

Indias rail electrification with Hitachi

Hitachi ABB power grid has won a ₹1.2 billion ($16.05 million) deal to supply transformers to Indian railways. The company will supply transformers to Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) for the production of 400 passenger and freight locomotive engines. 

This deal will help the Indian government’s goal of 100% rail electrification, as well as reducing the countries carbon footprint. Hitachi will supply 6,531 kVA transformers for CLW’s goods locomotive engines and 7,775 kVA transformers for its passenger engines.

India’s railways are the single largest consumer of electricity in the country with a 2% share of national energy consumption. 

Concerning the deal, N Venu, Managing Director of Hitachi ABB Power Grids India, has stated: “Railways are the backbone of environmentally-sustainable transport, and our pioneering technology will help successfully balanced energy expansion with the reduction of emissions”.

Volkswagens commitment to EVs in China

Volkswagen is going to focus on vehicle production in China, the world’s largest car manufacturer. The company is set to make electric vehicle production the centre of its post-pandemic strategy. This comes as the country has forecasted sales in the second half of the year would hit a similar level to 2019.

Stephan Wöllenstein, Volkswagen China’s Chief Executive, has said that almost all capacity to be added in the country would be for electric vehicles. Furthermore, the company are going to introduce a new battery-powered range in October.

With its leading position for plug-in hybrids in the country, Volkswagen wants to introduce its electric vehicle strategy. 

This comes at an important time in China as the government has set an ambitious goal for 25% of new car sale to be battery-powered or plug-in hybrids by 2025.

Hong Kong’s new Island

Ponti Design Studio has designed a new electric tram to help citizens safely return to public transport after the height of coronavirus. Their autonomous tram concept, called Island, includes a radical interior design to help with social distancing on-board. 

The new ‘Island’, aims to persuade people to move from private forms of transportation to public ones. As public transport is now less favoured in the light of the pandemic, Ponti Design Studio hope their design will solve this problem.

“The concept of social distancing, which limits people’s freedom to move and interact, became the design challenge and focal point for the new concept,” says Andrea Ponti, founder of Ponti Design Studio. “We shouldn’t be dividing and separating but instead rethinking public spaces with seamless, integrated and effective design approach”.

By incorporating electric and driver technology, this negates the need for an engine and driver, creating more space in the interior of the tram. This space makes it easier for customers to practice social distancing. As well as innovative interior design, trip payments will be made contactless via Hong Kong’s Octopus card system.

Ponti has also stated about their new tram design: “Island represents the forward-thinking spirit of Hong Kong, and introduced a new concept of public transport that overcomes the practice of social distancing. The idea of designing a tram is no coincidence: trams are one of the city’s landmarks and the tramways celebrate their 115th anniversary this year.”

More sustainability-focused goals in Asia

As well as all these exciting advancements, sustainability-focused goals do not end there in Asia. Singapore has set 2040 as the date for phasing out petrol vehicles. This paves the way for greater adoption of electric vehicles in the upcoming years. 

Indonesia also has impressive sustainability targets. The country aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 29% from business as usual (BAU) emissions by 2030.

It is clear that the move to sustainable transport is gaining momentum worldwide and Asia, in particular, is taking huge steps in cleaning up its mobility industry.

Catherine Gray

Catherine Gray is a Senior Writer at CleanTech News, eager to be part of the important discussion around clean technological advances, promoting and celebrating the things that can be achieved. Catherine is particularly interested in how writing can have an impact on people’s lives and hopes to make her own mark in the CleanTech community through championing new innovative technologies. With huge admiration for companies and individuals with the dedication to make positive advances towards a carbon net-zero future and an advocate for sustainably in day to day life, Catherine looks forward to being actively involved in the CleanTech community.