EV market slows on low awareness, limited charging stations

Total sales of hybrid and EV vehicles in Malaysia last year only accounted for 2.2% of 604,287 units sold

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic credit: KLCC Parking

A LACK of awareness among consumers and limited charging facilities are hampering the growth of the hybrid and electric-vehicle (EV) market in Malaysia.

UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd (UMWT) president K Ravindran, said market awareness on the benefits of hybrid and EV cars is still low, while owners of such vehicles are facing inconveniences as charging facilities are not yet common in Malaysia.

“The hybrid and EV car sales are limited in Malaysia at this moment of time. Nevertheless, we foresee the situation will be getting better in the near future with wider awareness and complete facilities as expected, to be aligned with the new National Automotive Policy (NAP) which will be announced soon,” Ravindran told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in an email recently.

Hybrid vehicles saw declining sales last year, falling to 13,049 units from 20,744 units sold in 2018, according to data from the Malaysian Automotive Association.

EVs saw an improvement from two units sold in 2018 to 32 last year, but the number is still a far cry from the volume in advanced markets.

Total sales for hybrid and EV vehicles in Malaysia only accounted for 2.2% of 604,287 units sold by carmakers last year.

Ravindran said incentives for hybrid vehicles are currently only applicable for completely knocked-down (CKD) models. He said this has contributed to the declining sales of hybrid/EV cars last year due to a lack of new hybrid model launches, especially in CKD condition.

UMWT did not register any hybrid/EV sales last year after discontinuing Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Nevertheless, Ravindran said the company is planning to introduce more CKD hybrid vehicles in the future here in Malaysia.

Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd group VP Jahabarnisa Haja Mohideen said the company would continue to introduce new models in the hybrid and EV segment to excite the market.

“In 2019, Honda Malaysia achieved a milestone of 10,000 units of locally produced hybrid models. The models that contributed to this achievement are the Jazz Hybrid at 60%, City Hybrid at 34% and HR-V Hybrid at 6%,” Jahabarnisa told TMR in an email recently.

She, however, declined to comment on the state of the local hybrid and EV market. Premium carmaker, BMW Malaysia Sdn Bhd, sold 3,148 electrified BMW and MINI vehicles in 2019, comprising more than 900 units of BMW X5 xDrive40e, 300 units of BMW 740Le xDrive, 600 units of BMW 530e, 1,000 units of BMW 330e and 70 units of MINI plug-in hybrid.

The German auto group reiterated its commitment to expanding the infrastructure for electro-mobility in the country, with 18 new BMW i charging facilities introduced last year, bringing the total to over 30 in three years.

Moving forward, Ravindran said the government shall support the expansion of charging facilities in the country and consider more specialised incentives for hybrid vehicles.

He added that carmakers play a role to promote and offer more affordable hybrid and EV vehicles with good specifications to excite the market.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is scheduled to launch the NAP2020 this Friday — a new automotive blueprint that sets the direction of the local industry towards future cars.

The International Trade and Industry Ministry said the new framework is formulated to elevate Malaysia’s automotive industry to the next phase of industrial competitiveness, in line with the changing landscape of mobility in the global markets.