Tesla to shake up Malaysia EV scene
17 Mar 2023
It is a long-awaited news that diehard electric vehicle (EV) fans have been waiting for: Tesla Inc’s vehicles and services will soon be officially available in Malaysia.
Rumours about the EV-focused automotive company entering Malaysia started early last month after the media noted a name change to its subsidiary in the Companies Commission of Malaysia database from Tesla Services Sdn Bhd to simply Tesla Sdn Bhd.
Tesla Services has been in Penang since 2017, primarily to provide financial services and support to the Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region and Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.
Fast forward to a month later and we had International Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, via social media postings, saying the ministry had approved the company’s application to import battery EVs (BEVs) into the country.
The company is the first applicant of the ministry’s BEV Global Leaders Initiative that aims to boost demand for BEVs.
Tesla will also establish a head office and set up service centres, as well as a Supercharger network.
Most of what we know so far is business talk, such as investment potential, region expansion, job creation and industry growth.
What’s in store for the driver on the road are the exciting possibilities that Tesla’s entry entails.
Although the Tesla is a familiar to brand Malaysians, the company is still considered a new player in the country due to its late official entry into the growing EV market.
It will be intriguing to observe which models the company will bring into the country and how they will be priced. However, no official timeline has been provided regarding when its operations will commence.
Nevertheless, the company’s entry is causing a stir in Malaysia’s automotive industry, particularly for those involved in the EV and premium brand competition.
Let’s not forget that Tesla has been a major global player for quite some time, with an incredibly strong brand that easily rivals its competitors.
This is a positive development as it will keep other brands on their toes, which will ultimately benefit car owners and create a more competitive EV scene.
Currently, only the Model 3 sedan and Model Y sport utility vehicle (SUV) are officially available in Singapore and Thailand, with the Model S and X yet to make their regional debut.
The Model 3 is equipped with a dual-motor All-Wheel Drive (AWD) engine and can cover 547km (WLTP) on a single charge.
With a 15-minute recharge at Supercharger locations, the car can travel up to 270km.
The Model 3 can accelerate from zero to 100kph in 3.3 seconds and has a top speed of 261kph. Its cargo space measures at 649 litres.
The Model Y, which also features a dual-motor AWD, can cover 514km on a single charge. A 15-minute recharge at a Supercharger location can give it a 261km range.
It can complete the century sprint in 3.7 seconds and has a top speed of 250kph. It boasts approximately 2,100 litres of cargo space.
In Thailand, the Model 3 is priced from 1.75m baht and the Model Y at 1.96m baht. Based on the current conversion rate, these prices are approximately RM228,050 and RM253,980, respectively, minus tax.
While some motoring enthusiasts may argue that Tesla’s EVs are more tech than a car, the specs are impressive even at those prices, assuming that everything aligns.
On the other hand, an industry that relies on paid upgrades (which essentially unlocks an existing built-in feature of your car by purchasing them as an upgrade via the app) is a more controversial prospect, if any.
While the concept is not new locally and has already been implemented by certain automotive brands, Tesla has the potential to further influence and drive the market towards wider adoption of this controversial practice.
The receptiveness of Malaysians towards the Tesla DNA in that respect will undoubtedly shape the future of the local EV industry.
However, what would really make an impact, although highly unlikely at the moment, is if the rumoured entry-level Tesla model (the smallest in the lineup) that was recently spotted in China were to make its way here, given its potential for a sub-RM120,000 price point.
Tesla’s popular Superchargers will also shake up the local charging scene, which is a huge win for EV users. More options mean better accessibility to charging stations.
Adopting a 480-volt direct current (DC) fast-charging technology, each stall connector can supply electrical power at a maximum of 72kW, 150kW, or 250kW, depending on the Supercharger generation.
Through the Tesla app, users can search for stall availability and monitor the charge status. Drivers can also plan out their charging route with a first-party proprietary trip planner app.
According to its website, the placement and function of the Superchargers are strategically planned to charge the car in 15 minutes (hence, the listed charge times) since it is assumed that cars rarely need to be charged above 80 per cent, allowing the EV to constantly be on the go instead of waiting in line.
It has yet to be announced which generation of Superchargers Malaysians will be getting or their potential locations. Currently, there are more than 40,000 Superchargers placed along prime routes globally.