EV Is The Future, But Are We Ready To Make The Change?

In the previous article, we touched on the basic knowledge of charging an electric vehicle (EV). Lately, EV is getting a lot of attention, not only from car enthusiasts but also from the general public. Capitalising on this trend uptick, car manufacturers have been releasing or plan to release more EV models in the market. Even General Motors, which is famous for petrol-guzzling pickup trucks is now putting its bet on EV. However, the conversion from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles is still lagging. Positive action plans are in the works, but it seems that it is not enough to convince the public to make the switch. Thus, what more needs to be done in order to embrace the electric lifestyle? In this article, we will discuss what has been done so far, and what the ongoing initiatives are to promote EV.

EV charging station
If charging points are readily available and easily accessible, will the public be more willing to switch to EV?
Image courtesy of MyEnergy EcoTech

Electric Lifestyle: From Europe To The Rest Of The World

Europe has been embracing the electric lifestyle much earlier than the rest of the world. As a result, eight European countries have the highest maximum power output from renewable energy sources when running at full capacity, compared to the rest of the world. At the same time, electric vehicles are also widely accepted within their population.

Norway has always been the poster boy for EV. For a relatively small country, the number of EV per capita is astonishingly high. They started as early as the 1990s in establishing a stable policy framework to create long-term reliable EV market conditions.

Percentage of EV in new car sales 2020
Norway’s success in promoting EVs can be attributed to:
1. Waiving vehicle import duties and car registration taxes on EV, but imposing it on ICE vehicles.
2. Being a high income nation. The median household, after tax, are roughly twice as high than the EU average.
Infographic by Statista

However, since 2019, the scenario has changed. Although the market share is still lower than Norway, China is currently leading the world in the deployment of EV. As of June 2019, EVs consist of approximately 3.5 million, or 1% of vehicles in China. Back in 2018, the number was only 1.1 million. Going into 2021, we can expect this trend to continue.

United States Of America: Catching Up On The EV Wave

The government of the United States of America possesses an enormous fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles. Sadly, all are internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. However, that is about to change. The newly elected President Joe Biden plans to replace them all with electric vehicles. On top of that, he also pledged to launch a USD 2 trillion plan to combat climate change.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden working together to combat climate change
President Joe Biden’s plan to fight climate change is nothing new. In 2009, the previous Obama administration spent USD 2.4 billion to promote battery and EV production. The administration also provides a federal tax credit of up to USD 7,500 for buying electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
Image by Daniel Schwen courtesy of Free Stock Photos

On top of the subsidies from the federal government, state-funded subsidies are also available. For example, the state of Delaware provides USD 2,500 rebate for the purchase of new battery electric vehicles. This monetary aid is provided to increase the use of electric vehicles on their road.

Is Continuing To Subsidise EV A Good Policy?

Overall, providing subsidies to promote the purchase of EV may be a popular move. At a glance, this approach may attract consumers to favour EV over ICE.

However, this move may not be sustainable. The Pacific Research Institute published a report in 2018 of their analysis regarding the distribution of subsidies and tax benefits. They found that more than half went to households with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of more than USD 200,000. It seems that taxpayers, the lower-income household included, were subsidising the rich to enjoy the luxury of owning EV.

By offering tax credits, EV owners can enjoy a one-off reduction from the amount of their income tax. On the surface, this incentive may goad consumers to choose EV over ICE, but the data shows that it is not sustainable.
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

Earlier on, China has announced that they will end the subsidies on EV purchases by the end of 2020. Similarly, the United Kingdom also declared that they are reducing the subsidies given for electric car purchases. We can expect other nations to follow suit, seeing how negatively it impacts the tax distribution.

Integrating Electric Chargers – The Way Forward

So, if subsidies are not the answer, then what is? Any solution needs to assure vehicle owners that the driving experience stays smooth and coherent after shifting to EV. The ubiquitous petrol stations make it easy for ICE car drivers to refill their petrol tank when necessary. As such, they expect a similar experience should they transition to EV. Finding a place to recharge should be as convenient as finding a petrol station.

One practical approach is to have a network of integrated charging stations. A study by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) showed that making electric chargers readily available on residential streets, as opposed to focusing on central locations (e.g. shopping malls) provide the greatest benefit. Placing the chargers at strategic locations that are easily accessible, and making the drivers aware of it, are important points.

Integrated EV charging network
Imagine an ICE car owner starting to see EV charging stations everywhere. He may have his doubts before but knowing that it is now convenient to charge on the go, it is easier for him to switch to EV.
Illustration by Author

On top of that, having more high-speed charging stations along the highway also has its merits. This way, those who wish to travel beyond the single-charge range of their vehicles can do so without worry.

Is It Possible To Set Up Electric Chargers For EV Everywhere?

Now, the study may offer a feasible solution, but is anyone taking notice? Constructing such infrastructure is not an easy task. Without the support of the federal government, it would be almost impossible for the plan to be executed.

Coincidently, the United Kingdom had already initiated a similar programme called the “On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme” (ORCS). The scheme provides funding to set up on-street electric vehicle charge point infrastructure. Through the scheme, they hope to increase the availability of on-street charging points in residential streets where off-street parking is not available. The scheme was recently extended to 2022, with another £ 20 million cash injected into the fund.

charging your EV in the parking lot
EV chargers in Malaysia are mostly installed at parking lots, thus it is not easily accessible to the public. Setting up EV chargers at various locations along the residential streets and highways, for example, will make it easier for electric car owners to charge on the go.
Image courtesy of MyEnergy EcoTech

Other nations are also starting to employ similar measures. China has put the growth of EV charging infrastructure as a matter of national policy. It targeted to have 120,000 EV charging stations and 4.8 million EV charging posts by 2020. The United States, a bit late to the party, is also working to build a network of 500,000 EV charging units by 2030.

EV Penetration In Malaysia

Sadly, we are not seeing similar enthusiasm in embracing electric vehicles within our shores. Currently, the government does not offer tax rebates. On top of that, charging stations are mostly available around urban areas only. Charging facilities along major highways are also scarce, with maybe one bay available at selected petrol stations.

Malaysians, in general, are aware that switching to EV helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, owning one is very taxing to the wallet. The price of EV is too high for most Malaysians to consider buying. Even the Nissan Leaf, a compact five-door hatchback costs more than MYR 180,000. At that price, it is not a vehicle that most can afford. As a comparison, Honda Jazz which is also a five-door hatchback only costs around MYR 73,000.

Median income of Malaysian household group
Financial advisors recommend that we buy cars with a price tag not exceeding our annual income. Going by the selling price of Nissan Leaf (MYR 181,263.00) only those from the T2 group of the country’s Top 20 percent population can actually afford it.
Illustration by Author, based on information from Household Income and Basic Amenities Survey Report 2019, Department of Statistics Malaysia

MyEnergy EcoTech – Providing Sustainable Eco-Friendly Solutions

We are seeing new EV-related companies setting up businesses even though Malaysia is not a haven for electric vehicles. MyEnergy EcoTech is one of them. This company focuses on providing services for EV chargers as well as offering products related to renewable energy and eco-friendly waste treatment.

Mr Aidil Alladdin from MyEnergy EcoTech
Mr Aidil Alladin (left) during a discussion on providing EV chargers for the new EV from Audi Malaysia.
Image courtesy of MyEnergy EcoTech

Mr Aidil Alladin, CEO of MyEnergy EcoTech, believes that more information needs to be shared with the public to educate them about EV ownership. Without sufficient knowledge, their experience in owning an EV may not be a fulfilling one.

Protecting Your EV Charging System

Mr Aidil stresses that many are not aware that continuous use of a 3-pin type Level 1 charger overnight causes the lithium battery to overheat. Continued overheating will eventually reduce the lifespan of the high-voltage battery.

He also advises EV owners to upgrade the wiring of the socket that they want to use for charging. The cable for that socket must be directly drawn from the distribution board. Changing the cable to the appropriate size is also necessary. Otherwise, you will overheat your charger and damage your socket. This is a potential fire hazard which may even cause your home to catch fire.

Wiring of the socket used to charge EV was badly burnt
One such incident was prevented when Mr Rajiv Kakar, an owner of BMW X5 noticed the wiring behind the socket that he uses to charge his EV was badly burnt. Fortunately, he detected it early. The re-wiring of the socket was not done by an authorised installer, which should have been the case. He has since upgraded to an AC charger after getting consultation from MyEnergy EcoTech.
Image reproduced with permission from Mr Rajiv Kakar

If you want to know more about the services that are available for EV owners, please call MyEnergy EcoTech for a free consultation or book an appointment at +603 5885 3966. You may also drop them a message.

Is Malaysia Ready For EV?

As of now, the national framework to have the nation ready to switch to electric cars are not yet available. Thus, Malaysians may not be seeing an EV evolution in the near future. There are calls to the government to quickly come up with policies that would jumpstart an otherwise slow acceptance of EV. Tax rebates being the impetus are always the first recommendation. Others such as providing cash incentives to trade in the old vehicle when purchasing a new electric car have also been proposed.

Engaging an authorised principal installer
It is always important to engage authorised principal installers to set up your EV charging system. They are properly trained to ensure any upgrades to your electric system will not create issues when charging your EV.
Image courtesy of MyEnergy EcoTech

Executing relevant transformation needs a massive amount of investment. So, unless it provides a positive return on investment, we may not be seeing such bold actions soon. We can argue how electric evolution would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But, we need to be realistic. Without sufficient financial sources, rarely anything can be achieved.

Where Do We Go From Here?

So, what should the Malaysian public do in the meantime? Well, we may not be formidable enough to force drastic changes. But, we can still do our small part in making the world a greener place to live. Activities like recycling, taking public transport and installing solar panels would help, more so when done collectively. When the infrastructure is in place and EVs are more affordable, we can finally join the bandwagon and embrace the electric lifestyle.

Feel free to leave your comment below on what you think would encourage an ICE owner to make that switch to EV.

Together with recycling, conserving energy and optimising renewable energy, the electric lifestyle is actually part of embracing The Green Lifestyle. How ready would you say you are?

About Muhammad REZA

An avid reader, who enjoys history and personal development. Takes on everyday as a new learning experience. Dreams of opening a sanctuary for strays one day... until life threw him a curveball... fatherhood. Now all leisure is channelled to raising a happy and well learned princess.

One Reply to “EV Is The Future, But Are We Ready To Make The Change?”

  1. A very well written article. You have nailed it down perfectly when you said that it all depends on the government actions, but of course the impact is massive to the economy for whatever action taken by the government. Tax rebates? Yes, the rich will becomes richer and the poor will becomes poorer. Printing 2 trillion ringgit to combat climate change by following the footsteps of big nations? Is MYR 6.50 per USD 1.00 sounds good for Malaysia as an impact of this money printing?

    On a wider argument, we can’t really compare Asian countries with European countries in general acceptance of EV. One factor to consider is that we Asians are born to drive because of the needs. We can’t easily move from point to point without a car. Compare this lifestyle in Europe, European are more blessed with the infrastructure available to them to move easily by using public transport and hence they are born with a mentality to accept moving around with public transport (imagine you can live in Zurich while working in Bern by travelling to your work by train everyday. What does this anything to do with EV? It’s the lifestyle, as the needs to drive long distance is less required in Europe, European generally drives shorter distance compared to us Asians. This suits the current available technology of EV if we look into the distance it can achieve for a single charge.

    Then comes to the big factor, the price. Nothing for me to add on that as it is very obvious. But wait, let’s say there’s not much of a difference between EV and ICE cars, and with the current state of information and infrastructure available for EV, are we ready to change? The answer is again no. I can bet most of us who drives our ICE cars don’t really know the actual benefits, economically, by driving an EV? I don’t know how much would I save in a month by switching to an EV, and would not know how much of an advantage or disadvantage for my wallet it is to send an EV to a workshop for repairs or maintenance compared to my ICE car. The issue is we are currently not educated enough on EV subject. Can we blame the government? I think it’s not fair for the government, so let’s put this onto the responsibility of companies dealing with EV’s such as our friend here MyEnergy EcoTech PLT.

    Looking further, shall we study the impact of Malaysia as an oil producer promoting EV? This surely deserves a full fledge research considering Norway with their oil reserves double of Malaysia’s still at the top of the EV chart.

    To conclude, yes I strongly believe that we are still far away from accepting EV as a lifestyle. God knows whether it’s the government, personal financial situation, cultural and beliefs or whatever or whoever we need to blame. Nevertheless a big thumbs-up to entrepreneurs like MyEnergy EcoTech PLT to have such tolerance for ambiguity and brave enough to venture into this unknown territory. May the future serves them well , as well as us Malaysians in general towards the success of effectively reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses.

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