As demand for electric mobility accelerates across major markets such as China, the US and Europe in response to climate and environmental concerns, a new World Bank report “Electric Mobility and Development” launched today at COP 24 reveals that developing countries also stand to benefit significantly from the technology. The report, prepared by the World Bank and UITP—the International Association of Public Transport, and ESMAP—the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program, lays out basic principles for eMobility programs that respond to the climate, economic, fiscal, technical, institutional, and policy circumstances of different countries.
“New and disruptive technologies such as electric mobility hold promise for greenhouse gas reductions, but there are challenges to be solved, including regulation, infrastructure and fiscal implications,” said Franz Drees-Gross, World Bank Director for Transport. “This paper is an important contribution to helping both developed and developing countries develop eMobility as a complementary element of their broader transport, energy, and climate strategies.”
Roadmap for eMobility
There are currently an estimated 3.1 million passenger electric vehicles on the road globally, according to the OECD and IEA, and China alone accounts for 1.48 million. More broadly, numerous countries and cities have already adopted commitments to phase out internal combustion engine technologies, and most top global automotive companies have committed to research, invest and scale up eMobility. However, eMobility supply chains have yet to achieve industrial scale on par with conventional technologies. eMobility will disrupt jobs, companies, and entire industry clusters.
To tackle some of these challenges, the paper lays out basic principles countries should consider in their eMobility strategies. Key program design features include the need for a good understanding of market segments and their sensitivity to governmental incentives, the central role that public transportation needs to play, as well as the enabling and complementary factors such as charging infrastructure, and policy credibility required to implement targeted solutions.
In particular, fully realizing the environmental benefits of eMobility will require parallel efforts to make full use of renewable energy sources. eMobility offers an opportunity to promote the electrification of economies and their transition away from fossil fuels.
eMobility is for everyone
Contrary to conventional wisdom, eMobility solutions can be simple, affordable and highly sustainable. Countries such as India, Jordan, Nepal, and Ukraine have engaged with eMobility in novel ways that illustrate how the technology can serve people in very different contexts.
In Nepal owners of “Tempos,” small public transportation vehicles, started shifting to battery power due to fuel availability issues. The government supported this by limiting the registration of conventional fuel vehicles. This resulted in increasing the fleet of electric Tempos from 0 to more than 700 in a few years.
For countries with lower average incomes, electric two and three-wheelers represent an opportunity that is already taking hold on a large scale in India. Governments can facilitate solutions through policies, regulations, standards for charging, and basic consumer protection frameworks with low fiscal costs.
The disruption of eMobility also offers parallel opportunities. Policies associated with the Tempo’s transition in Nepal resulted in more female drivers and vehicle-owning entrepreneurs. Women now represent almost 60 percent of the drivers of electric Tempos, and a significant number own their vehicles.