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Ramping up Malaysia’s EV ecosystem

Ramping up Malaysia’s EV ecosystem

17 Apr 2023

In the low-carbon future, electric vehicles (EVs) will become a common sight on roads as businesses and consumers opt for a more environmentally friendly transportation alternative.

Getting there, however, requires a lot of different parties to work together. EVs, for instance, will have to be affordable and accessible to the masses. A reliable and convenient charging infrastructure has to be built so that EV users can drive their vehicles without worry.

Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) wants to play a contributing role in Malaysia. Already, it has been partnering with key organisations to facilitate a sustainable and holistic EV ecosystem. Understanding the range anxiety of EV users on long haul journeys, TNB is collaborating with PLUS Malaysia Bhd (PLUS) to build EV chargers along the main throughway for Malaysians travelling across the country.

Minimising range anxiety

TNB’s investment includes collaboration plans with PLUS to build 18 TNB Electron Charging Points at nine Rest and Service Areas (R&Rs) locations along the North-South Expressway and East Coast Expressway Phase 2 by year’s end. Currently, TNB has six charge points in three locations on both expressways and they are open 24/7.

“As EV charge point owners continue to invest in building the infrastructure to support more EV chargers, this will address EV drivers’ concerns about the ecosystem to support their move into low-carbon mobility,” says Tenaga chief retail officer Kamal Arifin A Rahman.

“TNB, through our wholly-owned subsidiary, TNBX, has empowered EV owners to ‘reload, reserve and recharge’ their vehicles from the listed EV charge points on the GO TO-U mobile app. The app enables users to reserve the chosen EV charge point up to seven days in advance, ensuring that there is no queue to charge their vehicle upon arrival.”

As such, EV drivers can use the app to look for the closest charger, reserve a spot and pay via the app, making the whole process seamless and convenient.

As the nation’s largest toll expressway operator, PLUS is working towards creating a better driving experience in the near future in anticipation of more EVs on the road.

PLUS chief operating officer Datuk Zakaria Ahmad Zabidi says: “Our collaboration with TNB enables us to leverage its expertise in green technology solutions, from the EV charging infrastructure to the mobile app. These solutions contribute to a better experience for our highway users and effectively address any anxieties EV drivers may have.

“For now, there are at least 20 working DC EV chargers along the PLUS expressway, with plans underway to add more at other R&Rs.”

Six other R&R locations were identified along the North-South Expressway for more TNB Electron DC fast charger installations in Machap, Gurun, Paka, Gunung Semanggol and Rawang by year’s end.

User-friendly mobile app for EV drivers

As the range anxiety for EV drivers is addressed with more DC fast charging stations being installed, the next question to arise is the charging rate.

For TNB Electron working chargers along the PLUS expressway, its charging rates at the Tapah R&R (northbound) are RM2.05/min (80kW) and RM2.35/min (100kW); at Ayer Keroh R&R (northbound), it is RM2.20/min (2x90kW). At the Paka R&R (northbound) of the East Coast Expressway Phase 2, it is RM2.20/min (2x90kW.)

These rates are competitive compared to other public chargers and even to internal combustion engine vehicles, according to TNB. A Hyundai Kona EV that has a 64kWh battery capacity with 20% left in capacity, for instance, takes only about 30 minutes to charge it to 80% with a DC charger. If the driver stops to charge at the Tapah R&R, the total charging fee is RM61.50.

TNBX, as the charge point operator for TNB, is responsible for operating and maintaining the TNB Electron chargers. Powered by the GO TO-U app, TNBX becomes an EV charging platform owner that connects EV users to available chargers. 

EV drivers just have to download the GO TO-U app, verify their mobile number and top up their e-wallet balance before charging their vehicles. The map feature in the app makes it easy for drivers to look for a charging station. Once booked, users can drive to the location, plug in the nozzle to the EV and begin charging via the app. An EV charged for 20 minutes at approximately RM44 can travel a distance of 120-140KM.

They can keep track of the charging status via the app and end the session at any time. Once the EV battery is full or the reservation expires, users are notified through the app.

Plans are underway to invite other EV asset owners and charge point operators to collaborate with TNB and be listed in the GO TO-U app, providing more choices for EV drivers.

In addition, TNB has taken special measures to expedite the electricity supply offering to Energy Commission-licensed EV infrastructure providers, shortening the process based on the project scale and voltage required for reliable service. Once these licensed applicants have registered their interest at the nearest Kedai Tenaga or TNB CareLine, a planner is assigned to assess and help deploy the supply offering. 

Tax breaks for EVs

With the GO TO-U app and a wide network of charging stations, EV ownership becomes more accessible and practical. Coupled with the government’s incentives, a low-carbon transportation sector is a vision that can be realised in Malaysia.

In Budget 2023, for instance, the govern­ment extended the zero sales tax and excise duty for locally assembled completely knocked-down (CKD) EVs (until Dec 31, 2027), the zero excise and import duties for imported completely built-up (CBU) EVs (until Dec 31, 2025) and the zero import duty on components for locally assembled EVs (until Dec 31, 2027).

There will also be zero tax imposed on EV charging equipment manufacturers from 2023 to 2032. On the demand side, companies that rent non-commercial EVs can enjoy tax deduction on the rental amount of up to RM300,000 (effective from 2023 to 2025).

Helping the country achieve net zero by 2050

To further nurture the development of a holistic EV ecosystem in Malaysia, TNB is working with other parties through the Zero Emission Vehicle Association, of which it is a founding member. The association comprises industry players and potential EV customers and aims to help the government form EV-friendly policies.

The transportation sector is the second-biggest source of carbon emissions in Malaysia. The adoption of EVs can help reduce emissions and the common problems associated with internal combustion engine vehicles, such as air pollution.

“PLUS is continuously exploring green technologies to drive innovation and enable us to deliver affordable, convenient and value-added highway services to our users. PLUS is also looking to support the growing number of EV users and facilitate the growth of e-mobility,” says PLUS’ Zakaria.

“Providing EV charging stations at strategic R&Rs along PLUS expressway is a part of our Smart Highway plan for enhancing our services. A comprehensive network of EV charging stations along PLUS expressway will give confidence to the growing number of EV users in Malaysia to use the expressway. As a key public infrastructure, PLUS will be a catalyst to support nation building and encourage Malaysian drivers to switch from internal combustion engines to electric. We believe that, through such adoption, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be further addressed.”

Besides cost savings and reduced carbon emissions, venturing into green technologies will spur new business models for PLUS.

As the main energy utility provider in Peninsular Malaysia, TNB is already adding renewable energy to the grid through various initiatives. By enabling widespread EV adoption, TNB is intensifying its efforts to help Malaysia reach its climate targets. The government has stated its target to have 10,000 EV chargers available by 2025 under the Low Carbon Mobility Blueprint 2021-2030.

“TNB is committed to the long-term game and facilitating the growth of EV adoption through meaningful collaborations with key players in the EV ecosystem. We are confident Malaysia would be on point to achieving its goal to be a low-carbon mobility society,” says Kamal.

Source: The Edge Markets