Winds of youthful change from Viet Nam: Eco-friendly mobility in Southeast Asia
By Lee Sung-min Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), Ho Chi Minh City
Viet Nam has long been called “the country of motorbikes.”The motorbike, with approximately 46 million officially registered, is not only a national icon but a primary means of transportation for much of the population. Since several years ago, however, the motorbike has had a rival: the electric two-wheeled vehicle, which includes scooters and electric bicycles.
Viet Nam is a developing country whose per capita income is approximately USD 2,800. Nevertheless, it is actually very active in pursuing eco-friendly policies alongside economic growth?a stance that is behind the popularity of electric two-wheeled vehicles. The country’s first domestic car manufacturer, Vinfast, has released a range of electric motorbikes whose price range is similar to their combustion engine counterparts. This is resulting in the consistent shirking of the non-electric motorbike market and growth of that for electric motorbikes. According to Vietnamese media outlets, the country’s electric motorbike market is expected to grow to USD 22 billion by 2025, which translates to an annual average growth rate of 7.3% between 2021 and 2025.
A similar situation is taking shape in other ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. Young consumers increasingly favor electric motorbikes, with governments quickly putting into place measures to create an eco-friendly mobility market. The Philippines is especially vocal in its support of the electric vehicle industry?which includes, for instance, electric motorbikes and three- and fourwheeled vehicles?and accelerates its provision of relevant support. While prospects for a large market fueled by the latest trends are rosy, the task remains to put the infrastructure in place to support the eco-friendly mobility market. As of 2019, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City each had 400 and 450 electric motorbike charging stations, respectively?numbers that are too low considering the size of both cities.
Compared to Taiwan, where major cities tend to have at least one charging or battery changing station for electric motorbikes within a 5-kilometer radius, there is still a lot that needs to be done.
Viet Nam’s electric motorbike market is, like its population, very young. It is clearly growing and boasts a virtually unlimited potential. The electric motorbike may very well become the driving force of the eco-friendly mobility market of not only Viet Nam but other ASEAN countries.