Although I’m a big fan of the sound of Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs), I realise that I need to be realistic and practical as the world is changing rapidly, and EVs are becoming more advanced. However, in Malaysia, the EV adoption policies are not truly user-friendly due to the high road tax rate that is based on the Power Output.
I first tested an EV vehicle back in 2003 in India, where I had the opportunity to test drive a small car called REVA produced by a Bangalore-based car company. The car was powered by a DC motor that produced 18bhp at 1300 rpm and a torque of 68Nm, with a cost of around US$3,400.
In 2018, I had an interesting experience when I was brought to a research and development center in China to test drive several vehicles. They gave me a pre-production unit to test drive and provide feedback on. These SUVs were impressive, as they were fully electric and hybrid, and had been planned for sale as mass-market SUVs. I knew that in the future, my mother and aunties would be driving these cars to places like 7-Eleven, sundry shops, hypermarkets, schools, and offices.
The SUVs had massive torque and impressive acceleration figures, ranging from 3.2 seconds to 4.5 seconds for 0 to 100 km/h. However, I was concerned about giving these SUVs to “normal drivers” – drivers who had not attended any safety or advanced driving courses or had no experience driving cars with quick acceleration.
I recommended that the R&D team detune the settings, and if they wanted to offer the 0-100 km/h in 3.2 seconds option, they should put it under a different edition and caution the driver.
China has great technology that allows them to produce fast EVs and hybrids for more than half the cost of the cheapest Tesla. I calculated that the price of these SUVs if they ever landed in Malaysia, would be around RM220,000 or US$49,000.
More recently, just before the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, I was in China testing various EV vehicles, including SUVs, mini cars, and prototype supercars producing around 1500 bhp to 1800 bhp. In this discussion, I’d like to offer my thoughts on the EV adoption policies that should be implemented in Malaysia to boost the EV market.
During the testing session, I also had several meetings with the management team and some government representatives who were involved in the EV adoption policies in China. From our discussions, I gained several insights that I believe could be applied to Malaysia to encourage more people to use EVs.
What is EV?
Electric vehicles, or EVs, are a type of vehicle that runs on an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine that uses gasoline or diesel fuel. EVs are becoming increasingly popular due to their lower environmental impact, lower operating costs, and advancements in battery technology that are making them more practical for everyday use.
Some of the benefits of electric vehicles include:
- Lower greenhouse gas emissions. EVs produce fewer carbon emissions than gasoline-powered vehicles, which helps to reduce air pollution and combat climate change.
- Lower operating costs. EVs are generally cheaper to operate than gas-powered vehicles, as the cost of electricity is typically lower than the cost of gasoline, and electric motors require less maintenance than internal combustion engines.
- Reduced dependence on fossil fuels. By using electricity to power vehicles, EVs can help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and improve energy security.
There are also some challenges associated with EVs, such as range anxiety, the limited availability of charging infrastructure, and higher upfront costs compared to gasoline-powered vehicles. However, as battery technology continues to improve and more charging stations are built, these challenges are expected to become less of a concern.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are ready for the Malaysian market. In recent years, the Malaysian government has taken steps to encourage the adoption of EVs, such as providing incentives for the purchase of EVs and investing in charging infrastructure.
There are already several models of EVs available in Malaysia, including the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S and Model 3, BMW i3, and the Hyundai Kona Electric, among others. Some local automakers are also developing their EVs.
EVs in Malaysia
However, it’s worth noting that the adoption of EVs in Malaysia is still relatively low compared to other countries, due in part to concerns about range anxiety, the lack of charging infrastructure, and the higher upfront cost of EVs compared to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.
Nevertheless, as the benefits of EVs become more widely known, the demand for EVs in Malaysia will likely continue to grow.
While Malaysia does have some charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, the availability of charging stations is still relatively limited compared to countries like the US or China. This can be a barrier to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in Malaysia, as drivers may be concerned about the availability of charging stations when they need to recharge their EVs.
However, the Malaysian government has announced plans to install more public charging stations across the country, as part of its efforts to encourage the adoption of EVs. In addition, some private companies and shopping malls are also installing charging stations to cater to EV users.
Another potential solution to the lack of charging infrastructure is the development of home charging stations, which would allow EV owners to charge their vehicles overnight in their own homes. This could be especially beneficial for drivers who have shorter commutes and don’t need to rely on public charging stations as frequently.
My take on EVs in this country
Overall, while the lack of charging infrastructure is a current challenge for the EV market in Malaysia, there are efforts underway to address this issue and make EVs more accessible to Malaysian drivers.
To increase the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in Malaysia, the government can consider implementing the following policies:
- Financial incentives. The government can provide financial incentives for the purchase of EVs, such as tax breaks, rebates, or low-interest loans. This can help to reduce the upfront cost of EVs and make them more affordable for consumers.
- Charging infrastructure. The government can invest in the development of a comprehensive network of charging stations throughout the country, particularly in urban areas and along highways. This will help to alleviate range anxiety and make it easier for EV users to charge their vehicles.
- Public transportation. The government can also promote the use of EVs in public transportation, such as buses and taxis, by providing incentives or subsidies for EV adoption by public transportation operators.
- Research and development. The government can invest in research and development to improve the performance and affordability of EVs, as well as to develop new technologies that can support the adoption of EVs, such as battery storage and charging infrastructure.
- Awareness campaigns. The government can launch awareness campaigns to educate the public about the benefits of EVs, including their environmental benefits, lower operating costs, and potential energy independence.
- Fleet electrification. Governments can incentivise and require public and private fleets, such as taxis, buses, and delivery vehicles, to transition to EVs.
- Incentives for EV infrastructure in private residences. Governments can offer tax credits or other incentives for the installation of EV charging infrastructure in private residences.
- Collaboration with industry. Governments can collaborate with automakers, charging station manufacturers, and other industry stakeholders to develop policies that encourage the adoption of EVs.
- Integration with renewable energy. Governments can encourage the integration of EV charging with renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power.
- International cooperation. Countries can work together to share best practices, research, and development to advance the adoption of EVs globally.
- Support for low-income households. Governments can provide financial assistance and other incentives to help low-income households adopt EVs.
- Research on battery recycling and disposal. Governments can fund research on battery recycling and disposal to ensure that the increased adoption of EVs does not lead to negative environmental impacts.
Here are some additional EV adoption policies that could benefit taxpayers and road users:
- Reduced toll fees. Governments can offer reduced or waived toll fees for EVs to incentivise their adoption.
- Rebates for EV charging stations. Taxpayers can receive rebates or other financial incentives for installing EV charging stations on their property.
- HOV lane access. Governments can allow EVs to use high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, even if they only have one occupant, to incentivise their adoption.
- EV charging infrastructure on highways. Governments can invest in the development of EV charging infrastructure along highways to reduce range anxiety for road users.
- Tax credits for EV adoption. Taxpayers can receive tax credits for purchasing EVs, which can help offset the higher upfront cost compared to conventional vehicles.
- Property tax exemptions. Governments can offer property tax exemptions for EV owners, which can help reduce the overall cost of owning an EV.
- Reduced registration fees. Governments can reduce or waive registration fees for EVs to incentivise their adoption.
Some additional EV adoption policies that could encourage government staff to adopt EVs:
- EV incentives for government employees. Governments can offer incentives for their employees to purchase or lease EVs, such as tax credits or rebates.
- Priority parking for EVs. Governments can designate priority parking spots for EVs in government buildings and parking lots.
- Charging infrastructure at government buildings. Governments can install EV charging infrastructure at government buildings and provide free or reduced-cost charging for their employees.
- EV car-sharing programs. Governments can establish EV car-sharing programs for their employees to use for work-related trips.
- EV training and education programs. Governments can offer training and education programs for their employees on the benefits of EVs, how to operate and maintain them, and how to use charging infrastructure.
- Partnerships with automakers. Governments can partner with automakers to offer special pricing or lease programs for their employees to purchase or lease EVs.
It’s important to note that these policies should be designed carefully to avoid discouraging EV adoption. For example, the fees and taxes should be set at a reasonable level that still provides incentives for EV adoption and encourages the transition to a low-carbon transportation system.
By implementing these policies, the Malaysian government can help to create a supportive environment for EV adoption, which can in turn help to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, and support sustainable economic growth.
I strongly believe that if the Malaysian government, through its various agencies and ministries, can draft citizen-friendly EV adoption policies that also generate revenue for the government, it would be a great start towards establishing Malaysia as a major player in driving EV adoption in the region.