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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.