Freight transport in the region is growing. According to the International Transport Forum (ITF), more than half of the world’s surface freight demand is expected to come from Asia alone by 2050. In particular, road freight in the region is slated to grow by 269 percent between 2015 and 2050 – second only to the growth expected out of Africa.
Unfortunately, this growth comes with a cost in increased transport emissions, especially from trucks. Statistics by a non-profit organization, Green Freight Asia, show that delivery trucks are responsible for 54 percent of road transport emissions in the region. This is despite making up only nine percent of the total number of vehicles in Asia. There is a strong focus in the region to green its roads, with different countries having pledged their own commitments to sustainable transportation.
Indonesia, for instance, has set a target of having 20 percent of its vehicle production be comprised of electric and hybrid vehicles by 2025. Earlier this year, ride-hailing app Gojek announced its plans to make every car and motorcycle on its platform an electric vehicle by 2030, even as it merges with Indonesian e-commerce company Tokopedia.
We are also seeing major players contribute towards a cleaner and more sustainable transport industry in Indonesia. For example, South Korean automaker Hyundai has announced its electric vehicle production plans in the country, following the completion of their $1.5 billion factories in the West Java town of Cikarang. The company has ambitious plans to roll out its first electric vehicle in the country by March next year.
As electric vehicles become the way of the future, we also need to ensure industrial properties have the electrical and operational infrastructure in place to support these new wheels on the road.
The operational challenges
A key challenge with electric trucks is the time required to recharge the battery following a trip, combined with the distance a vehicle can travel on a full charge. A standard 600-kilowatt truck battery, for example, would take 13.8 hours to recharge on a quick charging station and would travel 500 kilometers per charge. These batteries would require additional space to charge and limit vehicle operational time.
Smaller vehicles would be more suitable for electricity as they require a smaller battery and have a faster five-hour charging time. However, with a fixed battery, charging times would result in additional space. The land requirements would appear similar to a petrol station, but each vehicle would require the station for roughly five hours to fully charge.
Implementing a swap-and-go system would be ideal for minimizing the layover time while batteries are changed. Exchange stations would be developed at warehouses and at truck yards, where a surplus of batteries could be charged while idling. This would require additional space and electricity to truck yards to ensure the performance of the batteries. Truck Yards may require further development to ensure charging infrastructure is capable.
This would also be a natural fit for Indonesia’s plans to establish itself as a major player in the global supply chain for electric vehicles as the country embarks on its transition towards clean energy. The adoption could serve as a stable stream of domestic demand and a testing ground for newer technology.
Future-proofing industrial sites
In any scenario, industrial sites need significant electrical infrastructure upgrades and additional space for charging or the storage of batteries. A standard logistics facility is 600 to 800 kilowatts. With electric vehicles potentially requiring that level of power per truck for fast charge capability, facilities would need to multiply their power requirements to the site significantly.
The energy authorities, such as state-run electricity company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), will also have to complete significant infrastructure upgrades from zone substations to industrial properties to accommodate this future increase in electrical demand for electric vehicles.
While these upgrades have not generally started in the region, and we are not certain of the electrical demand requirements for these vehicles, businesses building new facilities need to start future-proofing their sites for the electric vehicle future.
Organizations can start integrating easy, effective solutions for the new future. This includes adding in-ground electrical conduits to future truck charge points at docks and parking, which will prevent typical retrofitting headaches such as cutting hardstand slabs on operational sites. Organizations also need to look at increasing future electrical capacity provisions within the new electrical infrastructure. This includes allowing additional space within electrical main switchboards and electrical plant rooms for the increased electrical capacity requirements.
In future-proofing the infrastructure for the electric vehicle future, companies can also explore incorporating solar energy to meet increased electrical demands. This is particularly for companies in countries like Indonesia, which has a relatively high annual solar output and consistent daytime power. As a good complement to sustainability efforts, solar energy also comes in the form of a versatile technology that can adapt to conventional building facades, making it relatively convenient to adopt.
Additionally, organizations will need to allow space directly adjacent to the existing High Voltage (HV) kiosks for new HV infrastructure to the site, which will be required for the predicted increases in the electrical demand.
These are simple, cost-effective measures to integrate into a building design that will allow a smoother transition to electric trucks when they are fully adopted.
The electric vehicle industry is set to grow further in the region, particularly as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards become a critical metric for measuring organizations. Organizations going through long-term, transformational changes or planning to move into new industrial properties should include these elements to prepare them for the future electric vehicle better.
James Christopher is the president of the Asia region at TMX, a business transformation consultancy specializing in digital and supply chain solutions.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Jakarta Globe.