EEVS IN MALAYSIA - A REALITY CHECK
LAST week, we talked about the hurdles that the Malaysian motor industry needs to overcome before alternative energy vehicle manufacturers such as Tesla can come knocking at our door.
The government has yet to officially announce an extension of the incentives that have seen a number of manufacturers bringing in energy-efficient vehicles (EEVs) in the past.
Cars like the Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe and Twizy, Toyota Camry Hybrid, BMW 330E and Mercedes C350E would see phenomenal increase in prices without the incentives.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid, for example, would balloon to more than RM250,000, but with the incentives, the price is around RM175,000.
Before you complain that these are cars the Joe Public can’t afford, take a step back and ruminate that the affluent may help the rest of us live the electric dream in Malaysia.
These cars may still be premiumpriced vehicles, but their sales will help spearhead the development of infrastructure that will pave the way for another wave of electric cars, the type you and I are likely to buy for our daily commute.
Already, electric vehicle charging stations are being set up at 66 Petronas stations around the country.
These cars will also encourage Malaysians to get educated and informed about the benefits of the new technology and get them ready to adopt it.
Just like power windows, power steering, anti-lock brakes, airbags, traction control and numerous other automotive technologies, it is the premium products that penetrate the market with new features first before they filter down to the lower end of the market.
If and when fully electric vehicles like the plug-in hybrid Hyundai Ioniq, for example, make it to Malaysian shores, the ecosystem may already exist for them to move people reliably and freely.
The government has lofty ambitious for electric mobility in Malaysia, no doubt impressive on glitzy Powerpoint presentations.
Under the National Electric Mobility Blueprint, the government aims to have 100,000 electric cars, 100,000 electric motorcycles and 2,000 electric buses on our roads by 2020. In addition, it aims to have 125,000 charging stations to support these vehicles. A tall order, since right now there are only 155 such stations.
There seems to be a slight disconnect between the people making the policies and industry players who roll up their sleeves and make it happen.
Speak to any industry expert, and he may tell you that this target may not be achieved, at least, not without some tough decisions being made.
The government has to announce a longer time frame for the incentives to work. It could be a for a period of three to five years.
Carmakers need a realistic timeline for planning and without it, the risks they face are great. Like any business, the possibility of making some profit after an initial outlay is the end-goal.
Mercedes-Benz Malaysia sales and marketing, passenger cars vicepresident Mark Raine said their EEV and hybrid incentives last year would continue until the end of this year.
“The locally-produced hybrids are a testament of the close cooperation between Mercedes-Benz Malaysia and the local authorities. The introduction of locally-produced hybrids has been a large operation and investment in people, facilities and resources for Mercedes-Benz Malaysia. It is a result of our continued investments in the country, which are also geared towards supporting the nation’s aspirations of becoming an EEV hub.
“We look forward to bringing the latest automotive technologies to the Malaysian market and hope for policies that will support this. We are in discussions on the future of the customised incentive scheme for Mercedes-Benz in Malaysia,” he said.
However, he added that MercedesBenz in Malaysia faced difficulties planning for future model launches due to the uncertainty of future incentives.
“Current policies are based on a two-year syllabus. This is a challenges for us in terms of long-term portfolio planning.
“We advocate a longer term horizon, stretching up to five years, as this takes into consideration product life cycles and enables strategic longterm planning for our locally-produced products as well as securing funds for the investments into Malaysia by Mercedes-Benz Malaysia,” said Raine.
Malaysian Green Technology Corp chief executive officer Ahmad Hadri Haris showing the electric cars parked in the organisation’s premises. The government aims to have 100,000 electric cars, 100,000 electric motorcycles and 2,000 electric buses on our roads by 2020.