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Partnerships, Knowledge Transfer, Policies Crucial for Pushing EV in Malaysia

“The transportation sector contributes 26% of carbon emissions in this country. Therefore, in order for us to transform the transport sector into a cleaner and greener one, we need to move towards electric vehicles (EVs) – there’s no other way.”

This was the clarion call from Ir. Mohd Junaizee, Project Director for PMO Electric Vehicle under Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), Malaysia’s largest electricity supplier. At the recent International Conference on Learning & Development (ICLAD) 2021 hosted by TNB, sector experts gathered to discuss the possibility of accelerating the energy transition through innovation in e-mobility.

“Our role basically is in the infrastructure side – we are not going to be a car manufacturer, or a car dealer, but we are going to make sure that there are enough charging locations out there as the grid is ever ready to be connected to the cars”, Junaizee continued.

In Malaysia, charging stations, or demand side infrastructure, are an on-going long-term development. Range anxiety remains a real fear amongst Malaysians, as many still contemplate the feasibility and practicality of purchasing one in the country’s current economic climate.

To alleviate the situation, TNB is planning to install more charging points on all the country’s major routes, according to Junaizee. The utility is currently looking at collaborating with some of the country’s highway operators and major trunk roads to increase the number of stations and tagging points.

“Currently, the proposed target is that 30% of our fleet should be EVs by 2025. However, this needs to be studied further because there’s quite an investment required. We are also campaigning for our own staff to use EVs through employee OEM deals, and we have also installed charging points at TNB premises.

As part of our efforts to increase the adoption of EVs, TNB is also registering an association which we hope will become the voice of EVs in Malaysia. The platform has members that are part of the EV Owners Club, charging point operators, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who are bringing their EVs to Malaysia. So, this platform will become the voice of EV users here, and can help us improve the ecosystem,” said Junaizee.

Recently, the Malaysian government commented on the need to bolster the nation’s electricity supply to meet the progressive switch to EVs. According to Naim Husni Latif, replacing Dato’ Madani Sahari from the Malaysia Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii), the government’s efforts to-date have been received positively.

Commenting on the industry’s response, Naim said, “We are quite happy with the recent movement by the government. This gives the industry time to strategise their marketing strategy. One particular OEM is in the midst of discussion with management and their principle to deliver the best type of vehicles to its local customers.”

In 2011, the government had announced an import duty and excise duty exemption for hybrid cars, in an attempt to incentivise Malaysians to purchase greener vehicles. According to Naim, the public is awaiting further similar incentives, especially given the number of EV model selections today.

Budget 2022 announced recently finally provided a clearer view on the government’s plans. The proposal includes EVs’ complete exemption from import duty, excise duty and sales tax while benefitting from up to 100% road tax exemption, with RM2,500 income tax relief on the cost of purchasing, installing, renting, taking up hire purchase facilities as well as subscription payment of EV charging facilities.

“With the previous incentives, it actually increased the sales of hybrid vehicles in 2012-2013. Also, by doing this, we hope to spur the local automotive industry and increase the foreign direct investment into Malaysia, as well as create a net positive effect on the job creation, especially the high skilled job creation here in Malaysia,” he continued.

Huzaimi Nor Omar, Director of GreenTech Malaysia, was also present at the panel discussion. GreenTech Malaysia was one of the initiating agencies responsible for conducting a pilot study of EVs in Malaysia.

“We are also looking into improving the formulation of partnerships with OEM and utilities across the country. Previously, we had a partnership with TNB as well, and right now, we are in partnership with Sarawak Energy,” said Huzaimi.

“In terms of industry itself, Malaysians are quite ready – most people want a better, fuel-efficient car.

So the question remains – how can Malaysia capitalise on recent developments and become part of the global value chain of EVs? According to Naim, the factors are multi-prong. “Firstly, we need to have numerous kinds of trade, in terms of technology transfer with third parties overseas and with overseas OEMs to build this knowledge.

“In terms of industry itself, Malaysians are quite ready – most people want a better, fuel-efficient car. And in terms of their human capital – we need to have technical expertise, and a more robust human capital in order to go beyond whatever we are doing right now.”

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