Malaysia is rapidly urbanising and developing into a high-income nation which is both inclusive and sustainable. In line with such progress, it is paramount for the nation to develop a low carbon alternative to travel that can adopt to the climate resilient realities of the global economy.
Addressing viewers at the second iteration of the Energy Sector Round Table Engagement Session organised by the Climate Governance Malaysia (CGM) together with CEO Action Network (CAN) and hosted by Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), Puan Normah Osman, the Ministry of Transport’s Deputy Secretary General on Policy in her keynote address prefaced the panel discussion by first highlighting the urgent need for the country to reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector.
“Transportation systems in Malaysian form the backbone of social growth and economic expansion. However, the transport sector utilises 40% of the final energy and contributes to approximately 30% of greenhouse gasses (GHG),” she said.
She continued further that, “one of the strategies presented to tackle this, as outlined within the 11th Malaysia Plan, is to encourage low carbon mobility via the use of energy efficient vehicles and public transportation. To that end, Malaysia has set a goal to reduce GHG intensity in GDP by 45% before 2030, relative to year 2005.”
“Malaysia has set a goal to reduce GHG intensity in GDP by 45% before 2030, relative to year 2005” Puan Normah Osman, the Ministry of Transport’s Deputy Secretary General on Policy
Datuk Fazlur Rahman Zainuddin, Chief Strategy & Ventures Officer at TNB echoed similar sentiments and acknowledged the crucial need for the transport sector to decarbonise, referring to such a shift as a gamechanger to the Malaysian economy.
Reflecting on his experience with TNB, he said that “just as our country’s electricity generation is reducing dependence on carbon-intensive sources, a transition to electric vehicles (EVs) should take place sooner rather than later. There are particular areas for synergy and progress that we can capitalise on, such as, storage technologies which has both EV and grid applications.”
This has culminated in the development of the Low Carbon Mobility Blueprint 2021-2030, recently unveiled by the Ministry of Environment and Water. The blueprint aimed to increase the use of EVs and other low-carbon transportation choices to lower GHG emissions in the country.
Speaking to the importance of the blueprint, Encik Huzaimi Nor Omar, Director of Low Carbon Mobility at the Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Centre (MGTC) remarked that a long-term strategy such as this, should take a more holistic perspective of EVs as part of the transportation ecosystem in the country. Nevertheless, he cautioned that there is still work to be done to transform the charging infrastructure within the country to support the uptake of EVs in the longer term.
“Right now, we have around 30,000 EVs on our roads – mostly hybrid plug-ins. To cater to this market, we should rightly have 1,000 charging stations but that number is closer to 400. As EVs continue to rise in popularity, this is a critical aspect to investigate, to ensure we have adequate charging stations to cater for the spike in demand,” he said.
While such a blueprint provides a broader framework for low carbon mobility, Dato’ Madani Sahari, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IOT Institute (MARii) revealed that a specific policy catered to EVs is currently in the works. It would focus on providing tax incentives to EV buyers, duty exemptions, charging infrastructure plans and future research and development.
Another factor when considering the promotion of EVs to the mass market is affordability. Datuk Aishah Ahmad, President of the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) raised this point when discussing the commercial value of EVs in the country.
“We support and welcome the initiative by the government to achieve low carbon mobility, especially in terms of EV vehicles. However, it is incredibly important for EVs to be priced economically so that it can be marketed to a wider audience. Without this, EVs will continue to fall behind internal combustion engine vehicles,” she said.
She further remarked that mass market acceptance of EVs will also be driven by the increase in charging stations and technologies that enable faster charging.
“There needs to be coordinated work and partnership from all quarters – policymakers, manufacturers regulators, energy service providers and users in realising the national ambition for low carbon mobility,” Datok Shahrol Halmi, President of MYEVOC
As the EV space in Malaysia continues to develop, the importance of user input in charting future policy direction should not be lost on the ecosystem players. Datuk Shahrol Halmi, President of the Malaysian EV Owners Club (MYEVOC) noted that this would ensure the growth of this nascent industry in the country will not be siloed and will be reflective of consumer demand.
He added that moving forward, cooperation is key.
“There needs to be coordinated work and partnership from all quarters – policymakers, manufacturers regulators, energy service providers and users in realising the national ambition for low carbon mobility,” he remarked.
In closing, it is clear from the discourse that EVs have been leading the way in terms of emission reduction within the transport sector. The road is clear for EV adoption to take off in Malaysia. What is needed from here on out is clear policies, robust partnerships, and public-private participation to take it to the next level.