Revving up hype for electric vehicles


Zafrul (left) is seen during his visit to the Mercedes-Benz Production Plant. — Bernama photo

ELECTRIC vehicles (EVs) are touted as the new go-to mode of sustainable transportation. Cheaper to fill up and better for the environment, the benefits of EVs are encoouraging more and more Malaysians to make the switch.

Once a luxury segment of the automotive industry, EVs have become popular among consumers and companies alike in recent years, with solid growth trends attracting public and private investment.

Demand for electric vehicles is steadily rising as can seen in figures from the Malaysia Automotive Association (MAA), whereby battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales in December 2022 surged tenfold to 2,631 units from just 274 in 2021.

Thanks to their increasing popularity and mass-production, EVs are becoming more affordable, with various EV manufacturers offering a range of makes and models to choose from.

International Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz reiterated the government’s commitment to supporting Malaysia’s EV agenda to ensure a dynamic and more sustainable future for all Malaysians.

“The National Automotive Policy, or NAP 2020, and Low Carbon Mobility Blueprint outline the government’s direction in the development of the nation’s EV industry,” said Zafrul.

“We are currently committed to driving efforts to attract EV investments and meeting the comnational target of 15 per cent total industry volume (TIV) for EV and hybrid by 2030 and 38 per cent of TIV by 2040.

“In terms of charging infrastructure, the goal is to have 10,000 public charging stations by 2025,” he continued.

“To achieve these goals, the National EV Taskforce (NEVT) led by MITI and comprising relevant government ministries and agencies are sworn to carry out the permutational EV development practice.

“To ensure the strategies remain relevant, NEVT will review and implement new ones to promote the healthy EV industry in Malaysia,” he added.

Malaysia is committed to attracting investments in the EV industry and achieving the national target of making electrified vehicles, including hybrid (xEV) which account for 15 per cent of the total industry volume (TIV) by 2030.

“MITI also welcomes the continuous support from the industry to produce EVs and their critical components in the country,: he said in his speech at the launch of the first all-electric Mercedes CKD EQS at the Mercedes-Benz Production Plant earlier this month.

“The ministry has also proposed additional attractive incentive packages to encourage the development of the EV ecosystem.”

Speaking to reporters during the press conference following the event, the minister said the target to make EVs account for 15 per cent of the TIV by 2030 can be achieved through technological advancements, which would also help to reduce EVs’ prices.

He added that the ministry is looking into policies that will support these sectors to ensure the country’s EV ecosystem is complete and fully supported.

These include standards, certification and verification related to charging systems, battery disposal activities, battery swapping and wireless charging.

Zafrul also pointed out that a total of 26 projects worth RM14.7 billion in the EV sector were approved by Mida from 2018 to September 2022. The projects are in the EV sector and related ecosystems including assembly, parts and components manufacturing, as well as charging component.

“The efforts of the government in developing the EV industry have attracted significant investments.

“These highlight the country’s appeal as a destination for various investors, who have helped enhance Malaysia’s competitiveness and innovative leadership in the EV industry by leveraging on our highly skilled workforce and proficient technology experts,” he said.

Notably, Miti has established and is leading the national EV task force consisting of representatives from key stakeholders, including the industry, to strategise and implement the development of EVs and their ecosystem nationwide.

Zafrul said this initiative is in line with the New Investment Policy, which aims to attract investments and build capacity in technology-focused industries including the next-generation mobility.

Sarawak a frontrunner in public electric vehicle journey

Sarawak is way ahead in terms of its EV journey for its public transportation segment, thanks to the state’s vision and transition towards the hydrogen economy.

SARAWAK is way ahead in terms of its EV journey for its public transportation segment, thanks to the state’s vision and transition towards the hydrogen economy.

The state has achieved a huge milestone in bringing Malaysia to the world as it becomes the first state to introduce hydrogen fuel cell buses in the Southeast Asian region.

Sarawak Energy Bhd (Sarawak Energy) was entrusted by the Sarawak government in researching and implementing green energy practices in the state.

On May 27, 2019, the state launched its first integrated hydrogen production plant and refueling station – the first of its kind in Southeast Asia.

The facility includes a plant built by Sarawak Energy that produces hydrogen through an electro-chemical process called electrolysis as well as a refueling station for Sarawak’s first hydrogen fuel cell electric buses under the ownership and management of Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC).

The construction and operation of the hydrogen production plant and refueling station were undertaken by Sarawak Energy in collaboration with Linde EOX Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Linde Malaysia.

Through the facility, Sarawak Energy is exploring hydrogen’s potential to be part of Sarawak’s energy mix for a green transportation system as well as energy storage with export potential.

And more is on the way: Sarawak Metro Sdn Bhd (Sarawak Metro) is undertaking the the Kuching Urban Transport System (KUTS) with the main focus being the Autonomous Rail Transit (ART) for Kuching.

The new public transport service will consist of three rail lines, with over 30 stations and close to 70km of route coverage in its first phase of implementation.

Abang Johari says the transition to EVs is is important to control carbon emissions and reduce pollution, which will ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations. — Bernama photo

Once completed, the service would hold the record of being the world’s first transit system of its class to be powered by hydrogen fuel cells – an eco-friendly and renewable energy source which the state of Sarawak has been championing as part of its aim of progressing into a low carbon future.

The company says ART revenue services in Kuching are slated to begin during the fourth quarter of 2025.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Transport Sarawak (MOTS) and Sarawak Metro said they were looking at the possibility of emulating Japan’s public transportation system for the KUTS project.

This comes after Sarawak Minister of Transport Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin led a delegation from the state on a technical study visit to view the public transportation operations and legislation in Japan.

“This technical study visit has been very informative and useful. We also had a good insight on the latest planning approach on new rapid transit systems in Japan,” he said.

The technical visit itinerary also included riding on the Automated Guide-way Transit (AGT) and tram and viewed the various fare and non-fare facilities at the stations and stops along the alignment.

“The AGT vehicle also runs on wheels and has some similarity to our ART project,” said Lee, adding that the fare and non-fare facilities available along the AGT alignments gave a valuable insight that Sarawak Metro could emulate for the KUTS project to garner revenues.

Sarawak EVs: More to come

Sarawak will have more electrified cars on its roads from 2030 to 2050 as carmakers shift from internal combustion engines to powertrains that rely on electricity and hydrogen.

This is according to Abang Johari, who said that with this transition, road users will have no choice but to use electrified cars in the future.

Speaking to reporters, Abang Johari said this is important to control carbon emissions and reduce pollution, which will ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.

“There are not many vehicles using hydrogen-based engines (presently), but it will be encoded by phases the moment we have a lot of cars using hydrogen,” he said.

“On electric cars, we already have them in hybrid form, and while there aren’t many electric cars now, people have started buying them because of the incentives given by the federal government in terms of tax,” he added.

Locally, Association of Importers and Traders of Motor Vehicles Malaysia (Pekema) Sarawak has been doing its part to encourage more people to switch to electric vehicles.

Its president Datuk Ismail Abang Saufi revealed the association has been conducting road shows not only in East Malaysia, covering Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, but also in Penang and Johor Bharu.

This comes as the association aimed to continuously raise awareness on the benefits of EVss, particularly its range and ability, and ensure the readiness of infrastructure and promote the current incentives offered for electric cars and charging stations.

“The transportation sector is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and it is our responsibility to work towards reducing them. To realise this, public awareness needs to be strengthened to encourage more users to switch to electric vehicles,” he said in his welcoming speech during the Pekema-SEDC Energy EV Adoption Event last month.

“As a Sarawakian, I am proud that Sarawak is the first state in the country to have a legislation to enable industries operating here to comply with international requirements to reduce carbon emission.

“Our Premier has in fact gone one step ahead by introducing hydrogen-powered vehicles in Sarawak.

Pekema members are absolutely excited and will treat these as new business opportunities to explore and support,” he added.

Developing the EV charging infrastructure

MORE is being done to increase EV charging points across the country in line with the Low Carbon Mobility Blueprint.

Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said that Malaysia aims to install 10,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging points by 2025.

He said there were now more than 10,000 registered EVs in the country and 900 public EV chargers.

“The ministry is also committed to increasing electricity generation from renewable energy sources through the Electricity Supply Generation Development Plan 2021-2039, while strengthening the grid and developing the EV ecosystem,” he said in his speech at Malaysia’s EV Conference 2023.

He said the key challenge was to make EV practical and irresistible to all levels of society, but market forces alone might not be sufficient.

Hence, he said there should be appropriate incentives for both consumers and producers to speed up the transition to or adoption of EVs.

“We are doing Malaysia a disservice if we neglect our potential in EV while our neighbours are racing to excel in this industry. We already are a competitive auto industry player, so it’s a natural progression to take on EV.”

Currently, Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Corporation (MGTC) is developing a strategic framework for the development and planning of EV infrastructure across Malaysia.

Acording to Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Liew Chin Tong, the government is also examining the existing procedures for approving the EV charging system to reduce the time in processing the installation approval.

“Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) and the Department of Standards Malaysia are also cooperating in ensuring that the EV technology adopted and developed in the country is uniform, safe and is of quality.

“In efforts to encourage the use of EV and the addition of charging points nationwide, several policy decisions have been determined or implemented including offering tax incentive as announced in Budget 2022,“ he said during an oral question-and-answer session in Dewan Rakyat earlier this month.

Lim also explained that under Budget 2022, the government’s incentive covers full exemption on import duty, excise duty and road tax for locally assembled EVs or imported as completely built-up, as well as full exemption for sales tax for EVs assembled locally and tax relief for individuals for subscription of facilities or installation of EV charging systems.

“Additional incentives were also proposed under Budget 2023 and, at the same time, there are proposals to increase the number of EVs including hybrid as official vehicles for departments and positions is being fine-tuned by the Finance Ministry.

“Besides that, the land public transport vehicles are also encouraged to change to vehicles that use electric,“ he said.

Lim stressed that the implementation of these initiatives and new initiatives in the future is expected to further increase the usage of and demand for EVs as well as attract investors to expand the charging points across Malaysia to realise the nation’s target of achieving carbon-neutral status by 2050 as outlined under the 12th Malaysia Plan.

First locally-assembled Mercedes-Benz EV from Pekan production plant

Mercedes-Benz AG has hit a new milestone in Malaysia with the rollout of its first locally-produced electric vehicle (EV) on February 15. — Bernama photo

MERCEDES-BENZ AG has hit a new milestone in Malaysia with the rollout of its first locally-produced electric vehicle (EV) on February 15. The EQS 500 4Matic large sedan was assembled at Mercedes-Benz’s production plant in Pekan, Pahang.

Delivery of the CKD (completely knocked down) EQS 500 4Matic, which sits at the top of the EQ range, would begin from mid-March.

“Mercedes-Benz has reached a new milestone with the roll-out of its first locally-assembled electric vehicle EQS 500 4MATIC. This supports our global business strategy of offering our customers a comprehensive EQ range and contributing to a higher EV adoption in Malaysia,” said Sagree Sardien, chief executive officer and president of Mercedes-Benz Malaysia.

“As a company, we are committed to our sustainability vision and ‘Lead in Electric’ by evolving our fleet of new passenger cars to be CO2-neutral over the entire life cycle by 2039, to support our introduction of all-electric vehicles by end of the decade, wherever market conditions allow.

“On that premise, we continue to create a holistic ecosystem of electric mobility, not just via our products, but alongside our services, technologies and innovations, to ensure our customers can enter the electric future,” she added.

The EQS 500 4Matic “would effectively replace the fully-imported EQS 450+ AMG Line locally”, Sagree said, which was initially used as a bridge for the company to link the products as local production of the 500 got underway.

Available as a sole variant, the new luxury flagship sedan boasts a 330 kW rated output thanks to the new dual electric motor and comes with an extensive range of up to 695 kilometres.

It is capable of accelerating from 0-100kph in just 4.8 seconds, features a new Electric Art line exterior and 20-inch 5-spoke light-alloy wheels.

Direct current (DC) charging (200 kW) at rapid charging stations allows it to reach from 10 to 80 per cent in approximately 31 minutes while alternating current charging (11 kW) at public charging stations or the Mercedes-Benz Wallbox allows it to reach from 10 to 100 per cent in approximately 10 hours.

It comes with a recommended retail price with zero per cent sales tax of RM648,888 (on-the-road without insurance), which is RM50,000 cheaper than the fully-imported EQS 450+ AMG Line.

TNB to allocate RM90 mln for building EV charging stations

Over in Peninsular Malaysia, Tenaga Nasional will allocate RM90 million over a two-year period to build DC stations for EVs in the country.

OVER in Peninsular Malaysia, Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) will allocate RM90 million over a two-year period to build direct charging (DC) stations for EVs in the country.

Its programme director of project management office for electric vehicles, Mohd Junaizee Mohd Noor, said TNB had already built three charging stations at the Rest and Service (R&R) areas in Ayer Keroh, Melaka; Tapah, Perak; and Paka, Terengganu.

“We are targeting to build seven more DC stations in Malaysia by the end of this year along the North-South Highway (PLUS). Insyaallah, by year-end TNB will have 10 DC EV throughout the highway,” he said in an interview with Bernama during the EV Conference 2023.

TNB was also in discussions to build DC stations along trunk roads, he added. This follows TNB’s commitment to building consumer confidence on the use of EV for long distance travel without having to worry about their batteries running out on highways.

“With these DC stations we want to reduce range anxiety and at the same time encourage the use of EV in the future,” he said.

Asked on the challenges faced by TNB and providers of EV charging service in Malaysia, Junaizee said among the constraints were the approvals needed from local authorities for various forms and types of charging stations.

“Every local authority has its own regulations and these should be streamlined soon to ensure this problem can be resolved.

“I hope with nationwide coordination, the period for approval from local authorities can be shortened to two months at least,” he added.

EPMB bags major EV deal, to deliver initial order of 23,000 e-bikes from 1Q23

(From left) EPMB executive chairman Hamidon Abdullah, Averte Global Pte Ltd chief executive officer, Roy Fung and Blueshark Ecosystem Sdn Bhd group chief executive officer (Asean) Jeff Chong.

FOR electric bikes, Main Market-listed EP Manufacturing Bhd (EPMB) is making its mark after winning its first major deal to supply electric bikes (e-bikes) for the Indonesian and Vietnamese markets, with an initial order of 23,000 units to be delivered from the first quarter of 2023.

This marks a significant milestone for the group, on top of its venture into the four-wheeled EV business announced earlier.

EPMB, via its wholly-owned subsidiary EP Blueshark Sdn Bhd, signed a Master Agreement in January 2023 with Singapore-based Averte Global Pte Ltd and Hong Kong-based Blueshark Group Ltd, in which Averte and Blueshark have jointly agreed to be the joint-venture partners and purchasers.

The purchase deal will be effective for five years from the date of this master agreement and may be extended with mutual agreement.

Over the period, EP Blueshark is expected to supply at least two million e-bikes to the purchasers.

The price for each e-bike is expected to be within the range of US$1,850 to US$3,900.

It is noteworthy that EPMB has tied-up with China-based Sharkgulf Technologies Group Ltd to assemble, manufacture and distribute the latter’s Blueshark-branded two-wheeled EV, targeting Malaysian and other Southeast-Asian markets.

In October 2022, EP Blueshark received the approval from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry to assemble and manufacture e-bikes at its upcoming manufacturing facility in Glenmarie, Shah Alam.

EPMB acting chief executive officer Lim Sim Yee said: “We begin the year 2023 with an exciting news for EPMB, as this 5-year deal will create a new source of revenue for the group with a healthy margin.

“This will put us on an accelerated growth as we work towards securing more such buyers in the future.

“While our EV venture only began less than a year ago, we have been seeing a strong response from prospective clients. We see tremendous growth opportunities for two-wheeler EVs in Indonesia and Vietnam.

“The Indonesian e-Bike market, for example, is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 20.96 per cent to reach US$816.2 million by 2025, according to an independent study. EPMB hopes to be at the forefront to capitalise on this demand.”

Averte is involved in the business of delivering innovative and impactful green products and services in Asia.

In July 2022, Averte signed a memorandum of understanding with Viettel Post Joint Stock Corporation, whereby Viettel Post will purchase 20,000 e-bikes and it will also open its 1,800 outlets across the country to cooperate with Averte to sell e-bikes to corporate and/or individual customers.

Viettel Post is the subsidiary of Vietnam Telecom, the largest telecommunications firm in Vietnam.

Averte had also signed a Preliminary Agreement in July 2022 with PT Sarinah, a state-owned enterprise under the Indonesian government. PT Sarinah has been appointed to promote the popularisation of e-bikes in Indonesia.

In addition, Averte also inked a preliminary agreement with PT Sarinah’s procurement partner, PT Marco Indokarya, for the procurement of two million units of e-Bike for the next five years.

Apart from the e-Bike venture, EPMB is also in the midst of building its market presence as a regional four-wheeled EV player.

In December 2022, the group entered into an exclusive distributor agreement with Hubei Dongfeng Power Auto Trade Co Ltd and Xiamen Tsingyan Hylong Motor Technology Co Ltd to assemble and sell Lingbox EVs in Malaysia and Indonesia.

The five-year deal also allows EPMB the option to use its own brand name for the EV.