Rapid chargers, battery swapping can accelerate EV adoption
10 Apr 2023
The government needs to move beyond providing incentives and tax breaks to accelerate Malaysia towards the goal of having 100,000 electric vehicles (EV) by 2030, contend industry participants.
The availability of charging stations and direct current (DC) rapid chargers, as well as readiness of alternate battery technologies such as battery-swapping and wireless chargers, are critical infrastructures to address range anxiety of EV drivers in this country.
As geographical expansion of charging stations, especially along the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia is costly, government intervention is deemed necessary to move the industry forward.
According to Automotive EV-HUB director, senior EV technology consultant and specialist Joseph Alexander Ebrahmian, AC charging stations are mainly available at most new developments and commercial places.
“AC chargers are straightforward and can be set up faster as there is less need for major groundwork and these are mainly good for residential and commercial premises within the cities.
“For interstate and long travels, however, the best will be DC rapid charging stations and there should be a focus on it,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).
Hence, Ebrahmian hoped that government-owned utility company, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, could provide comprehensive aid to all operators with high-voltage cable lines to establish charging stations, particularly on interstate highways, as well as rest and refuelling locations.
Moreover, he said Malaysia should also consider hydrogen refilling stations as well as studying wireless EV chargers.
“EV is fairly new and due to the high cost of the battery, it is still expensive but technology is rapidly growing and by 2025 when new solid-state cells are available, the cost of EV will go down. Prices will also drop when all original equipment manufacturers (OEM) start making EVs in masses.
“The best way to encourage people to shift to EVs is through tax reduction, especially import and sales tax. Subsidies on rapid charging rates should also be provided,” he added.
Ebrahmian also pointed out that Malaysia used to be a pioneer when it comes to EV development but due to various issues, the country has been lagging.
Nevertheless, he was confident that the country could achieve its target of 1.5 million EVs by 2040 as many Malaysians are more knowledgeable about the EV system and infrastructure.
Fledgling EV Infrastructures
Sunway University Business School professor and economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng said Malaysia’s EV infrastructure is still in an immature stage.
Despite the government’s efforts to push EV adoption in Malaysia, EVs is still a niche market instead of for the masses.
“Charging facilities are currently limited to only a few locations such as big malls,” he said. He added that the EV market in Malaysia has great potential but it needs to be competitive with internal combustion engine (ICE) cars that have been catered to the mass market.
Based on his observation in the European and Chinese markets which are transitioning at a faster pace to EVs, there is a strong market for car dealers and car manufacturers to cater to the mass market segment.
Joint ventures should also be made with car makers to produce affordable EVs.
“Both Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) and Proton Holdings Bhd are already planning to release affordable EV models for the mass market.
“With the anticipated increase in EV usage, these makers must ensure that they can complement the specifications of the charging facilities available,” Yeah explained.
He also expected the complete transition from ICE to EV would take roughly two decades.
However, rapid advancements would occur if there is a higher demand for EVs.
Yeah also suggested petrol stations convert some of their pumps into charging ports for EVs during this period of transition.
One of the main issues with using EVs is the long recharge time, range anxiety and battery lifecycle management.
Therefore, companies such as Blueshark Ecosystem Sdn Bhd have developed battery-swapping technologies to address these concerns.
Battery swapping swiftly replaces depleted EV batteries with fully charged ones.
This innovation could transform the EV industry, making long-distance travel simpler and more convenient for drivers.
All they need to do is to drive to a swapping station and park in the bay to recharge.
A robotic arm swaps out the battery and the whole process only takes three minutes.
Blueshark group COO (Asean) Jin Chan believed that battery-swapping technology is crucial for electric motorcycle adoption in Malaysia as it boosts speed and convenience while busting common EV myths.
“By providing consumers access to a superior yet affordable product, powered by a viable; renewable energy solution supported by our end-to-end ecosystem, we can help accelerate this goal,” he said.
Malaysia has roughly 23 million vehicles, including 7.8 million motorcycles.
“Two-wheel EVs (2WEV) emit minimal CO2 compared to ICE vehicles so if we could replace all those bikes with 2WEVs, we can reduce the country’s carbon emissions and achieve the Low Carbon Mobility Footprint’s target of 15% electric motorcycles on the road by 2030,” Chan added.
He added that Blueshark has exhibited a high level of engagement in advocating for the nationwide movement towards EV adoption, as well as the process of reducing the carbon footprint in the transportation industry.
Although the government provided tax breaks and made changes to roads to encourage people to use EVs, more still needs to be done to reach the goal of having 100,000 EVs in Malaysia by 2030.
More EV Charging Stations Needed on The East Coast
Currently, there are about 900 public EV charging stations nationwide — 800 AC chargers and 100 DC chargers.
Malaysia aims for 10,000 public EV chargers by 2025 via the Low Carbon Mobility Blueprint. To achieve this, Association of EV Charging Industry president Ir Lee Yuen How said the country needs to install 3,000 chargers every year.
He added that EV charging stations along the highways are vital for boosting EV usage in the nation, and he noticed that the East Coast lacks them.
“Our North-South Expressway is fairly adequate for the time being, but the ones connecting the East Coast are lacking.
“In Malaysia, we have about four to five charging hubs, which are mostly concentrated in the cities. There is a need for a few more charging hubs on the East Coast to reduce range anxiety,” Lee said.
EVs are more costly than the more common ICE vehicles as they are priced at least RM150,000 in the market.
However, some OEMs are planning to introduce EVs that cost RM100,000 and below. The government has extended the incentives for completely built-up and completely knocked-down EVs until 2025 and 2027, respectively.
“The battery in an EV constitutes about 40% of the overall price.
“With the increase of public EV chargers, smaller battery EVs can be introduced, which will significantly reduce the price of EVs,” Lee concluded.
Source: The Malaysian Reserve