Electric-based national car proposal being developed

For a start, GreenTech Malaysia and TNB will construct EV charging stations nationwide to spur interest


Malaysia’s proposed second national car project could be a purely electric-vehicle (EV) initiative, in line with the new government’s emphasis and concerns on the impact of climate change, as well as the environment’s preservation.

Malaysian Green Technology Corp (GreenTech Malaysia) is currently spearheading a working paper on a potential electric-based second national car project.

GreenTech Malaysia CEO Dr Mohd Azman Zainul Abidin (picture) said the national car proposal is being worked on by GreenTech Malaysia internal committee.

“The committee is working on a proposal to be presented at the ministry level, and if it secures approval, it will then be forwarded to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” he told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview.

According to Mohd Azman, new METSCE Minister Yeo Bee Yin is very passionate about the environment and the issue of climate change which augurs well with the Electric Vehicle Industry proposal.

As such, it would not be as challenging for the proposal to be presented to Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir had mooted the idea of a second national car, a new initiative after Proton Holdings Bhd, during his working visit to Indonesia after assuming premiership of the country.

He proposed a potential Malaysia-Indonesia car programme, which represents a combined market of 300 million population in a dynamic economic region that would attract investors.

The idea was met with a mix of reactions from Malaysians. While certain quarters are more positive and supportive towards the idea, some are also concerned, and opined that a second national car project should not be a priority of the Pakatan Harapan government, especially when Proton itself is seen as having a “brand crisis”.

Mohd Azman said the proposal — should it be forwarded to Dr Mahathir — would include recommendations for a minor percentage of government fleet to be converted to electric mobility vehicles.

“If the government commits to convert a small portion of its total fleet to electric or plug-in hybrid, it would create major awareness and demand for the manufacturers to come in.

“The demand will allow the manufacturer to invest both in vehicle and charging stations,” he explained.

Among other facilitations that could be offered to encourage demand for EVs include tax breaks and other forms of manufacturing incentives.

“In France and Canada, the governments’ intervention is high to encourage demand and supply in the electric mobility vehicle segment.

“Malaysia, under the new government and minister, is seen to be proactive in the issue of climate change and care to preserve the environment,” said Mohd Azman.

He said for a start, GreenTech Malaysia has formed a special purpose vehicle with Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) to invest and construct EV charging stations nationwide.

He said the charging stations will create visibility of EVs in the country, and will spur interest among Malaysians.

In the next five to 10 years, the joint venture aims to construct up to 10,000 charging stations nationwide, to prevent the current lack of infrastructure issue faced by the electric mobility segment.

Currently, there are 234 charging stations, with some 150 are stationed in the Klang Valley region — which marks poor charging infrastructure in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

There are some 10,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles in the country currently, while some 130 full EVs are on-the-road. China is the world’s biggest market for EVs, with 770,000 units sold last year, a 53% increase over the previous year.

China is also the world’s biggest car market with 24 million passenger car sales last year.

All major car companies are already developing EVs. A common set of fiscal incentives can draw companies that can make an EV with a starting price of RM100,000, with a 150km range: They might choose to invest in Indonesia, Malaysia, or Thailand — which is already the automotive hub of Asean.

Malaysia is expected to become the marketing hub for EVs by 2030 under the National Electric Mobility Blueprint (EMB).

EMB is part of the government’s efforts to introduce EVs to replace diesel or petrol vehicles, to reduce dependency on fossil fuel and subsequently reducing greenhouse gas emission.

The blueprint also aimed at making Malaysia the marketing hub for EVs, with a target of 100,000 electric cars, 125,000 charging stations, 2,000 buses and 100,000 motorcycles on the road by 2030, and indirectly could reduce carbon dioxide emission in the transportation sector.