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The future of electric vehicles in Malaysia

by: Xinting Shao, SPI

This document is targeted for the following audiences:

  • European SMEs and start-ups who provide innovative methods and ideas to tackle the challenges for the development and promotion of EVs in Malaysia
  • European SMEs and start-ups that are focused on the automotive sector or related technological elements, e.g. advanced materials, artificial intelligence, ICT, etc.

Malaysia has committed to significantly reduce carbon emissions. This was highlighted during the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 21st Conference of Parties (COP21), which took place in Paris in 2015. To bring down the size of the nation’s carbon footprint, focus is being placed on fossil fuel motor vehicles, as they contribute nearly one-quarter of total CO2 emissions in the country.   

Malaysians are very dependent on motor vehicles. Over recent times, Malaysia has witnessed an average annual increase of approximately 1.2 million new vehicles. At the end of 2019 there were 31.2 million motor vehicles registered in the country. Given that the country’s population was estimated at 32.6 million, this means that there was nearly one registered motor vehicle for every Malaysian. It is expected that Malaysians will make 131 million daily trips by car by 2030, up from 40 million in 2010.

The use of electric vehicles (EVs) is viewed as a key solution to environmental issues in Malaysia. An EV is a vehicle that uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion. EVs do not require fossil fuels to run. Additionally, increased EV use can significantly help improve air quality and thus reduce health problems caused by pollution. EVs also have much higher energy efficiency than their conventional counterparts.

The adoption of EVs is encouraged by the Malaysian government. In the National Transport Policy (2019 – 2030) unveiled by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on October 17th 2019, it is stated that the government aims to “accelerate implementation of low carbon mobility initiatives”. This strategy is further supported by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI, formerly known as MESTECC – Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment & Climate Change), through its agency the Malaysian Green Technology Corporation (GreenTech Malaysia), which has set up more than 200 ChargEV stations, in Peninsular Malaysia. Use of these charging stations will be free for EV owners, after a small annual subscription. Moreover, the government is also considering a 50% reduction in road tax for EVs.

Important things to know about the EV sector in Malaysia include:

  • Government vision – the Malaysian government is focusing on developing policies and programmes to support EVs, and encouraging the launch of new models. The government aims to make Malaysia a significant player in the regional electric mobility market by 2030.
  • The EV market is in its infancy – even though the total number of registered EVs has increased from an estimated 100 units in 2013 to 5,403 units in 2019. The government aims for 100,000 EVs to be on the road in the country by 2030, along with 2,000 electric buses and 125,000 charging stations.
  • Pricing is an issue – as an overview, the main electric cars officially sold in Malaysia, the BMW i3s and the Nissan Leaf, are about 48% and 170% more expensive than their conventional equivalents.

 

On Level 2 you can find information about innovation and current development of EVs in Malaysia, while Level 3 will tell you more about relevant stakeholders and their actions that are contributing to the development of the EV sector in Malaysia.

 

This page will offer a brief overview of the current Electric Vehicle (EV) industry and its development in Malaysia. Focus will be given to technological innovation in the sector, the state of power supply infrastructure, and existing standards and regulations for EVs.

The EV market in Malaysia is in its infancy. Growth is being boosted by the Malaysian Government’s EV policies and new model launches.

On February 21st 2020, Malaysia published the National Automotive Policy 2020 (NAP 2020), with the objective of propelling the country to become a regional leader in automotive manufacturing. NAP 2020 aims to incentivize investment, business operations and skills development in broader mobility sectors, including through electrification and smart manufacturing. European firms can enter the market through collaborations with Malaysian government/partners – with the overall goal to help Malaysia become an EV hub in both sales and production. 

The total number of registered EVs has increased gradually from an estimated 100 units in 2013 to 5,403 units in 2019. However, this represents only a minute fraction of the 31.2 million vehicles registered in the country. The government has set the goal of making Malaysia a significant participant in the regional electric mobility market, and aims for 100,000 EVs to be on the road in the country by 2030, along with 2,000 electric buses and 125,000 charging stations. However, the development of the EV industry in Malaysia faces obstacles such as high price, some contradictions in Malaysia’s electric car policy, poor infrastructure, and a lack of fast chargers.

 

Research and Development on EVs in Malaysia

R&D on EVs is already underway in Malaysia. Since 2015, the Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii), has implemented research collaborations with Australian technology organisations on the development of an electric bus prototype, with the objective of developing EV systems and components. The project is in its final R&D stage and is expected to be ready for commercialisation soon. Industry R&D investment, under the umbrella of NAP2020, includes a commitment from car manufacturers in Malaysia to develop EV and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), targeting at further expanding the segment. Other privately driven initiatives have also been launched to develop commercial EVs with selected test beds around Klang Valley.

To spur the development of local capabilities, an EV Operability Centre (EVIC) will be established, which will be a shared test centre for the development of EVs and EV-related products and systems. The Centre will be able to test vehicle-grid interoperability, cybersecurity and communication safety in an EV ecosystem, leveraging big data management to enable real-time reporting and accurate decision making throughout the ecosystem. The EVIC will also be equipped with an EV test bed – including, buildings, charging stations, solar powered energy farming and storage and weather simulators. It will also feature data-driven, smart grid integration solutions that allow for measurement of the entire chain of electro-mobility.

 

EV Infrastructure in Malaysia

The lack of EV charging stations is still a main stumbling block in the process of EV adoption. GreenTech Malaysia has been tasked to create a network of charging stations nationwide. In collaboration with other organisations such as Tenaga Nasional Bhd, PLUS Malaysia Bhd, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), BMW, and Petronas, GreenTech Malaysia has now installed more than 200 charging bays at government buildings, petrol stations, airports, R&R areas and shopping malls. However, more charging stations are needed – and there are no ChargEV stations available in the states of Perlis, Terengganu, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak. There is also a need to install more electric charging points with fast charging capabilities and to diversify the range to include heavy-duty charging in locations such as ports, refineries and factories.

The majority of charging points in the countries are 3.7kW AC Chargers (>8 hours to full charge) or 22kW AC Chargers (<6 hours to full charge). There are only two 50kW DC Chargers (<2 hours to full charge).  In addition, the electricity used is mainly generated from non-sustainable sources such as gas (42%), crude oil (27%) and coal (21%).

 

Malaysian Standards and Regulations for EVs

A number of Malaysian standards and regulations have been implemented for EVs, including electric passenger cars, motorcycles, mopeds, and bicycles. These standards include UN Regulation 100 (safety requirement for electric powertrains of road vehicles), Electric motorcycles (MS 2413/UN R136) and Electric mopeds (MS 2688). The standards also include those for new components in EVs, such as connectors and inlets (MS IEC 62196), charging systems (MS IEC 61851), sockets (SAE 1772) and testing standards for lithium-ion batteries (MS IEC 61851).   

 

Opportunities for European companies

Despite the aforementioned policies to support EV deployment in Malaysia, factors such as high price and low infrastructure availability remain as barriers to growth of the EV sector.

Opportunities do exist though. As seen - it is obvious that a system of fast chargers (more than 22kW AC chargers) is required to help the shift to EVs in Malaysia – this indicates there is substantial development potential. European firms with advanced technologies in such EV support elements are being encouraged to this market through collaborations with Malaysian Government/partners.

 

This section will centre on stakeholders that contribute to the development of the EV sector in Malaysia, as well as government initiatives and an example of bilateral S&T collaboration between European countries and Malaysia.

 

Presence of local and global companies in the EV sector

The Malaysian government and local car manufacturing companies are investing in R&D for EVs.  A proposal for a locally-manufactured electric car company is being developed by GreenTech Malaysia, a government entity under the purview of the MOSTI (formerly known as MESTECC). Proton Holdings, a Malaysian automotive company and automobile corporation, is working with the local vendor community to develop capabilities and is committed to launching models with increasing technological levels over the next few years. Collaboration with the local companies can allow for a smoother entry into the Malaysian EV sector for European organisations. 

In the motorcycle sector, Eclimo Sdn Bhd is a 100% Malaysian-owned EV company founded in June 2008. Eclimo soon focused on manufacturing electric motorcycles (ES11 and EB25) and Lithium Ion battery packs (Eclimo Power) and modules. The company holds a series of patents in battery pack technology and direct-drive electric motors. Eclimo’s Headquarters - which includes R&D and manufacturing facilities are located on the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone in Penang Island.

Treeletrik Sdn. Bhd is Malaysia’s first all-electric bikes company which collaborates with various international companies and has a focus on employing engineers and researchers from universities around Asia.

In addition, global corporations such as General Electric (GE), BMW Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Sdn Bhd, and DHL Express Malaysia Sdn Bhd have contributed to the EV industry in Malaysia. DHL Express has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with GreenTech Malaysia in order to deploy a number of fully electric vans in its fleet. Further, DHL eCommerce has implemented its first fleet of EVs in Malaysia, and plans to increase this fleet and install rapid chargers in delivery hubs in Puchong and Cheras.

Government initiatives

A further innovation in the Malaysian EV sector is the Public-Private Partnership “Cohesive Mobility Solution” (COMOS) initiative. COMOS offers E-Mobility services by integrating various parts of the EV ecosystem and value chain; i.e. EV users, EV charging providers, EV fleet operators, parking management operators and telecommunication network operators. COMOS also deploys public charging infrastructure, including centralized network management system that integrates both electric vehicles and charging stations.

COMOS can be seen as supporting the National Automotive Policy (NAP) by helping to create a critical mass for the use of EVs. It aims to create an ecosystem that will encourage international manufacturers to bring their EV and related technology to the country, and help develop the Malaysian EV component industry.

Bilateral S&T collaborations between European countries and Malaysia

An example of the bilateral S&T collaborations between European countries and Malaysia in the EV sector can be seen between the Estonian company Skeleton Technologies and NanoMalaysia, a Malaysian firm which specializes in nanotechnology commercialisation and industrialization activities. The aim is to develop a fuel cell-powered EV for use in the Malaysian motorsports industry. The resulting electric motorsports vehicle called the Hydrogen-Paired Electric Racecar (HyPER) will be powered by NanoMalaysia’s Hydrogen and Hybrid Energy Storage System with Skeleton’s ultracapacitors. allowing for allow for higher power density and faster charging compared to other models.

 

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Last updated: 12.10.2020 - 09:08