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Part 1: The Future is Electric – How Malaysia can Grow its EV Industry Within the Next Decade

Electric mobility has an enormous role to play in achieving a sustainable future. In 2018, transportation contributed around 20% of the global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, with road transport (cars, motorcycles, buses, and taxis) accounting for 45% of that figure. Transforming the environmental impact of road transport will play a huge part in our goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.  

In Malaysia, wheels have already been turning to realise a future of electric mobility that reduces reliance on fossil fuels while supporting economic development as we move towards becoming a higher income nation.  

Breaking down this transition into an actionable guideline, the Low Carbon Mobility Blueprint (LCMB), a national document that was approved by the Cabinet in October 2021, plays a pivotal role in leading the nation towards an electric future. The Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Corporation (MGTC) has been mandated to drive the implementation of the LCMB among key stakeholders in the country. The MGTC is an agency under the Ministry of Environment and Water (KASA) that aims to drive the scope of green growth, climate change mitigation and green lifestyle for Malaysia. 

Together with Huzaimi Nor Bin Omar, the Senior Director of Technology Solutions Group at MGTC, Energy Watch delved into this plan in detail to discover the priorities, focus areas and challenges in activating this e-mobility blueprint in Malaysia.

1. What inspired the development of the LCMB and what were the priorities identified for this plan?

Huzaimi: Transportation is the second biggest driver of CO2 emissions (20%) after the energy sector. It is also the largest energy user in Malaysia, contributing 36.4% of the overall energy consumption in. As a sector that records the highest energy consumption with significant contribution to GHG emission, it is imperative that a dedicated, concerted, and comprehensive action plan be designed to mitigate the impact it brings to the environment. 

Transportation is the second biggest driver of CO2 emissions (20%) after the energy sector

This is in line with Malaysia’s commitment under the Paris agreement, whereby we have communicated our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) aiming to reduce 45% GDP emission intensity by 2030. 

The ultimate vision of LCMB is to drive sustainable mobility by reducing energy usage and GHG emissions. After conducting in-depth studies and careful deliberation with all stakeholders, we have identified 4 focus areas that will be executed in 3 phases through 10 strategic action plans. The plan is illustrated in the visual below and the key focus areas are defined as follows:  

A. Vehicle Fuel Economy and Emission Improvement – focuses on low emission vehicles and energy-efficient driving program for both light/medium-duty vehicles (LDV) and heavy-duty vehicles (HDV). One of the key action plans here is the inclusion of exhaust emission as part of the Vehicle Type Approval requirement. 

B. Electric mobility adoption – focuses on shifting to electric vehicles i.e. cars, motorcycles, taxis and buses. One of the key action plans here is the electrification of the government and GLC fleet to kickstart EV adoption and other measures to strengthen the whole ecosystem. 

C. Alternative fuel adoption – focuses on measures to enhance the use of biodiesel in road transport and building a robust ecosystem for the growth of the alternative fuel and energy industry. 

D. Mode shift – focuses on strategies to encourage the shift to public transport, freight mode from road to rail and, to promote active and micro-mobility such as scooters etc.

2. How does the blueprint support the government’s vision for the country’s electric automotive future?

Huzaimi: Malaysia has been pursuing the goal of decarbonising transportation by shifting to electric mobility since a decade ago, and over time, more and more local players are coming into the picture. Numerous policies supporting low carbon mobility have been introduced by the federal government, state, and even local councils.

On the national level, the 12th Malaysia Plan has placed significant emphasis on green growth supported by the National Transport Policy (NTP) 2019 -2030 which was published with the aim to improve integration, enable seamless movement of people and goods while supporting the low-carbon mobility agenda. The plan is also complemented by the National Automotive Policy 2020 that emphasises on the need for adoption of energy-efficient vehicles (EEVs), including EVs as well as National Investment Aspirations that is in line with Malaysia’s path to net zero emissions by 2050.

However, we see the need for a concerted action plan that consolidates the role of each stakeholder in the electric mobility ecosystem. The blueprint has outlined 6 strategic actions which will act as a catalyst to promote low-carbon mobility and strengthen the current ecosystem. The strategic actions include (1) strengthening institutional framework; (2) facilitating conducive economic instruments; (3) government led initiatives; (4) capacity, skills, and knowledge development; (5) R&D, technology and commercial; and (6) consumer communication, education, and public awareness.

In addition, we are currently finalising an EV Roadmap that will guide the way for EV adoption and push Malaysia to become one of the leading regional and global EV players.

3. How is MGTC breaking down this major transition to electric mobility into actionable steps that produce results?

Huzaimi: Adequate and robust charging infrastructure is a critical component to ensure successful rollout of EV plans and attract consumers to switch to EVs. In effort to build the first and largest public charging network in Malaysia, MGTC’s chargEV has collaborated with various parties which include ridesharing platforms, parking solutions providers, OEMs, property developers, utility companies and local councils, to expand the charging points nationwide. Some of our partners include BMW Malaysia, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), TNB Energy Services Sdn Bhd (TNBES), PLUS Malaysia, and more.

To this date we have 324 public charging stations under chargEV network and aiming for 1,000 charging points by 2022, and 2,500 charging stations by 2025. Together with chargEV, we’ve developed the standards, electric vehicle charging stations (EVCS) training modules and installer development program to train competent installers.

Other than that, MGTC is also working closely with Suruhanjaya Tenaga (ST) on the development of;

  • guidelines to for EVCS standards requirement.
  • guidelines for installation of EV charging stations for high-rise strata-titled buildings to prepare cities for adopting EVs in the future.

We are also in communication with the OEMs to understand EVs after-sales servicing support and expertise in Malaysia.

The path towards achieving the end goal of this Blueprint will not be an easy ride

4. What are the challenges MGTC foresees in achieving the end goal of this Blueprint? How can these issues be addressed?

Huzaimi: The path towards achieving the end goal of this Blueprint will not be an easy ride. We are looking at reducing energy consumption and GHG emissions from land transportation, and at the same time generate economic savings via a reduction in fuel expenditure and industry growth. Among the challenges are regulations, infrastructures, market penetration, and supply chain issues which will dampen the efforts made if they are not properly addressed.

Consumer behaviour to adopt the changes introduced will also be one of the main hurdles to overcome. For example, in terms of the EV market, one of the stumbling blocks is spreading awareness of EV benefits and gauging users’ confidence to switch to EVs. Another main challenge is to bring in a wider range of more affordable EVs into the market to capture a larger market share.

The readiness of infrastructure (i.e. to ensure charging infrastructure is adequate and robust) should be done in parallel to public awareness efforts and is one area of concern that strongly requires industry participation.

In terms of the regulatory structure, for example, we are looking to include Exhaust Emissions as part of Malaysia Road Transport Department’s (JPJ) Vehicle Type Approval (VTA) requirements, as well as setting higher requirements for newly imported diesel vehicles to meet the European emission 4, 5, or 6 standards.

In terms of supply chain issues, we want to maintain an integrated supply chain of EV covering from the production of basic materials and components, manufacturing, retail, and the aftermarket for both the EV and infrastructure maintenance.

In addition to the operational challenges, an overall change in lifestyle is also one that needs to be addressed such as encouraging citizens to use more public transport and adopt active mobility (walking, cycling).

All the issues mentioned can be addressed by active collaboration between all stakeholders to leverage each party’s comparative advantage to achieve the targets.

Defining these strategies is definitely a big leap for Malaysia to leverage its full potential and carve a place in the EV space. It provides clarity in the overall direction and highlight opportunities that ultimately will help private industry players to see where the nation is headed allowing them to invest in confidence.

In part two of our series, we’ll further explore MGTC’s perspectives on Malaysia’s journey towards e-mobility as body developing this blueprint, as well as the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration in accelerating this mission.

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