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Envisioning Malaysia’s EV Ecosystem in the Next Decade

The global electric vehicle ecosystem is growing rapidly as governments and the transportation sector recognise the need to transition away from fossil fuel-powered transportation to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. Transportation is currently the fastest-growing source of emissions worldwide, accounting for 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Electric vehicles, however, could potentially reduce these emissions by up to 30%, with even higher percentages if the vehicles are powered by clean energy.

Malaysia, which has committed to net zero emissions by 2050, intends to tap into the advantages of electric mobility to achieve its emission goals and accelerate the country’s energy transition. Its National Energy Transition Roadmap (NETR) released in 2023 emphasised an aim for EVs to form 80% of the total industry volume (TIV) by 2040, building on the targets set in its earlier Low Carbon Mobility Blueprint 2021-2023 (LCMB) and National Energy Policy 2022-2040 (NEP).

In 2022, the country’s International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) has formed the National Level Inter-Ministry Electric Vehicle (EV) task force to discuss the strategy and implementation of the development of EVs and its whole ecosystem nationwide. Meanwhile, Malaysia’s national utility, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) has been supporting and enabling this move with its ‘Building the EV Ecosystem’ 10-year roadmap.

TNB’s 10-Year EV Roadmap for Malaysia

(Visual source: Tenaga Nasional Berhad)

TNB’s ‘Building the EV Ecosystem’ 10-year roadmap is a strategic plan developed by the utility to support the growth of the electric vehicle ecosystem in the country. The roadmap outlines a vision for Malaysia in 2030 which would include 500 thousand battery electric vehicle cars and a total of 18 thousand charging points around the country. To make this vision a reality, the roadmap will be implemented in 3 stages – Seed, Deploy and Scale.

Throughout the Seed stage of the roadmap, which takes place from 2022 – 2024, TNB aims to create a foundation to enable the country’s EV ecosystem to flourish. The Seed stage will be critical in promoting the early adoption of EVs by establishing the necessary infrastructure and developing local technology. This work will centre around 4 main pillars – charging infrastructure, EV advocacy, EV research and development, and EV initiation.

  • Charging infrastructure: Develop a comprehensive business model to operate as a charge point operator, explore partnerships to accelerate the deployment of EV charging points and develop a sound platform and mobile app for EV users to have proper oversight of their charging details.
  • EV Advocacy: Work with local authorities to obtain the appropriate permits for EV charge points, conduct studies on EV charging rates to incentivise EV adoption, and work with industry partners and government to create the necessary EV laws, policies and standards.
  • Research & Development (R&D): Research and develop the necessary technology for smart charging of EVs, as well as study and prepare for the impact of EVs on the energy network.
  • Initiation: Lead the EV transition by beginning the electrification of TNB’s own fleet of vehicles, providing incentives to TNB staff to adopt EVs, establishing Langkawi as Malaysia’s EV hub, and reskilling its workforce through TNB Integrated Learning Solutions (ILSAS).

With these four pillars laying the foundation, TNB aims to achieve 30 thousand battery electric vehicles on the road and install 3.3 thousand charging points by 2025, reaching a CO2 emissions reduction of 0.069 million tonnes.

Where Malaysia’s EV Industry Stands

Although there are ambitious goals in place to develop the country’s EV ecosystem, Malaysia’s existing EV infrastructure is currently limited, with around 900 charging stations nationwide –  a number which may be inadequate to cater to a broader market. Despite the challenges faced in developing a mature EV ecosystem, the potential benefits of electric mobility have spurred the government to lay the foundations in making Malaysia an EV manufacturing hub.

Per the NETR, 10,000 EV charging stations will be built by 2025 in collaboration with the private sector. Tax incentives for those contributing to developing the country’s EV economy are also in place, in a move that the government hopes will attract more EV producers to establish a presence in-country. In Malaysia’s Budget 2023, the government has decided to impose zero excise and import duties for imported completely built-up (CBU) EVs (until Dec 31, 2025), zero import duty on components for locally assembled EVs (until Dec 31, 2027) with zero tax imposed on EV charging equipment manufacturers from 2023 to 2032. Some of these incentives has been extended in 2024, with additional schemes announced to encourage the usage of electric motorcycles for individuals earning RM 120,000 and below a year.

The potential benefits of electric mobility have spurred the government to lay the foundations in making Malaysia an EV manufacturing hub.

TNB has also been playing a part in leading collaborations to facilitate a sustainable and holistic EV ecosystem. To address the range anxiety of EV users on long-distance journeys, the utility is working with PLUS Malaysia Bhd (PLUS) to build EV changers along Malaysia’s main highways for those travelling across the country. This plan includes installing 18 TNB Electron Charging Points across Peninsula Malaysia, adding to the six existing direct current (DC) charging points already in operation. Recently in November 2023, the company also announced a collaboration with Chargeplus Sdn Bhd (Charge+) to explore a ground-breaking cross-border roaming platform that will effortlessly connect their customers to electric vehicle (EV) charging points in Malaysia and Singapore.

TNB’s subsidiary, TNBX, has also developed an app allowing users to reserve EV charge points up to seven days in advance, ensuring a seamless charging experience with plans to widen the options with non-TNB owned charging points. Users can also use the app to search for the nearest charger, reserve a spot, complete payments for the charging service and even view and control the charging session.

Leading by example to promote sustainable transportation, one of TNB’s first EV initiatives is its three-Year Early Adopter program aimed at encouraging EV adoption amongst its own staff. From 2022 to 2024, this program has been raising awareness of the benefits of EVs and providing incentives for the early adoption of electric mobility.

  • Awareness: TNB’S Jom-Drive-EV initiative provided a Nissan Leaf for hire, while the EV Expo Q4 2022 successfully displayed all EV models available in Malaysia while also offering discounts for EV models as well as leasing and hire-purchase options.
  • Incentives: TNB is offering its staff rebates for home wallbox purchase and installation, free EV charging at work, and discounted use of public EV chargers owned by TNB.

Looking to Our EV Future

When it comes to Malaysia’s transportation sector, electrification is no doubt the most viable way to decarbonise and help the country achieve its net zero goals by 2050. This will be especially impactful with the electrification of fleet vehicles as well as public transportation. Still, massive investments are needed in the EV industry to meet that target.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), 76% of the country’s road vehicles will need to run on electricity by 2050. These numbers indicate approximately 1.3 million charging stations will be needed to support the estimated 38 million electric vehicles that will be present in Malaysia by then. In the shorter term, IRENA estimates Malaysia will require 150 thousand public charging stations by 2030, which will require an investment of USD3.7 billion.

To support this future, from 2025 – 2030, TNB will be executing the Deploy and Scale stages of its EV roadmap. Throughout the Deploy stage, the utility will work on building up EV charging points across the country while operating the EV charging network. This stage is also where the company will initiate research and development on vehicle-2-grid as well as autonomous vehicle technology and by this time, TNB aims to have electrified 30% of its fleet. Leading into the proposed Scale stage of the roadmap, TNB intends to establish itself as a one-stop EV solutions provider. This stage will also see TNB advocating for autonomous vehicle technology and leveraging vehicle-2-grid technology, with up to 40% of its fleet successfully electrified.

Despite the challenges of establishing the necessary EV infrastructure, developing EV-friendly policies, and reskilling the workforce to create a flourishing local EV industry, the positive impact of this transition would make the effort well worth it. Looking at the targets of TNB’s 10-year EV roadmap, in a mere seven years, Malaysia could be home to 500 thousand battery electric vehicle cars and 18 thousand charging points – a move which would result in a whopping 4.432 million tonnes of CO2 emissions reduction by 2030, providing cleaner air for the next generation of Malaysians.

Building Our EV Future Together

Malaysia has set its sights on achieving net zero emissions by 2050, and electric mobility will play a significant role in this goal. While the country’s current EV infrastructure needs much expansion to achieve this, the government and TNB’s ambitious plans to develop the country’s EV ecosystem and make it an EV manufacturing hub are setting the foundations to make our EV future a reality. Still, a massive amount of investment in the industry and the workforce will be needed to spur the innovation and drive to create this future.

With more collaboration and partnerships, such as that seen with TNB and PLUS Malaysia Bhd (PLUS), we can easily tap on the country’s plentiful resources and potential to create a greener, more sustainable future for all Malaysians.

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