Malaysia needs better EV infrastructure to avoid ‘anxiety’ on road trips, drivers say

SINGAPORE: Mr Koh Jie Meng has pushed from Singapore to completely different components of Malaysia greater than 20 instances in his electrical Hyundai Kona SUV since he purchased the automotive in 2019.

He described the journeys as “smooth and seamless” now, however he acknowledged that this was not all the time the case throughout his first few makes an attempt at driving from his dwelling close to Yishun to Kuala Lumpur for enterprise conferences.

“At the start, I had some anxiety because I started driving too fast on the highways. I learnt that you have to watch your speed, travel only at 100 to 110kmh so I can get there easily,” stated Mr Koh.

He is now extra seasoned however he did be taught some classes the laborious approach.

He discovered that rushing would deplete the automotive’s battery life sooner and would depart him scrambling to discover an electrical charging level alongside the journey.

He additionally shared that placing the air conditioner at full blast whereas being caught in visitors congestion on the Causeway would additionally drain the battery quick.

Mr Koh outlined that an important think about finishing the journey safely was planning.

“You need to know your car’s battery range. For my Kona, it is a long-range electric car so I can do a single charge run. This means I can drive straight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in one shot without the need to charge along the way,” stated Mr Koh.

Electric vehicle

Mr Koh Jie Meng, who has been driving an electrical car since 2019, stated he now has no doubts in regards to the feasibility of proudly owning one, at the same time as an HDB dweller. (Photo: TODAY/Ooi Boon Keong)

Drivers like Mr Koh have learnt that driving an electrical automotive in Malaysia may be difficult provided that the nation nonetheless lacks the infrastructure that helps electrical autos utilization en masse.

There are solely round 300 electrical charging factors throughout the nation, with most of them concentrated alongside the west coast and the Klang Valley.

Furthermore, these drivers are additionally conscious that there should not sufficient workshops or restore providers particular for electrical autos in Malaysia, in case pressing work is required.

However, they word that the state of affairs has improved not too long ago and there may be optimism that travelling with an electrical automotive for a road journey in Malaysia may very well be a extra viable choice sooner or later.


Mr Shahrol Halmi, president of the Malaysian Electric Vehicle Owners Club (MyEVOC), informed CNA that the charging state of affairs has improved vastly alongside the west coast from when he purchased his automotive 4 years in the past.

“When I first got the car, it was kind of pathetic – the kind of DC rapid charging infrastructure outside of Kuala Lumpur. So you fast forward to this year, actually there are already a pair of 50kW DC chargers in operation in Ayer Keroh Rest Stop, both north and south bound,” stated Mr Shahrol.

Direct present (DC) charging factors are quick charging, and sometimes takes an hour to cost a automotive totally. Alternating present (AC) charging factors might take up to eight hours.

Mr Shahrol purchased his electrical automotive, a Tesla S 75, in 2017. He relies in Kuala Lumpur however has used the automotive to journey throughout varied components of Peninsular Malaysia.

He famous that of the estimated 300 charging factors within the nation, solely a handful are DC factors, and these are primarily concentrated on the west coast of the peninsula.

He lauded the transfer by native firm JomCharge, which introduced final October that DC chargers shall be put in at varied factors alongside North-South Expressway to cut back vary nervousness for electrical automotive drivers travelling between main cities like Johor Bahru, Melaka, Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

EV charging Ayer Keroh

Shahrol Halmi charging his Tesla S 75 at a DC charging level in Ayer Keroh. It prices RM1.20 per minute to cost the automotive. (Photo: Shahrol Halmi) 

Besides the chargers at Ayer Keroh relaxation cease in Melaka, JomCharge can be set to set up DC quick charging factors at relaxation and rest (RnR) pitstops in Skudai, Johor in addition to Bukit Gantang, close to Ipoh, Perak.

Mr Shahrol stated: “For Singaporeans who want to come to Malaysia for a road trip or holiday, there are charging points along the way for their electric cars. If they want to head to KL, Ayer Keroh is conveniently located mid-journey. There are absolutely no issues.”

He added that in Kuala Lumpur, there are presently three DC charging factors, with two extra set to be constructed quickly.

READ: Budget 2021 – More incentives to encourage early adoption of electric vehicles

A Singaporean driver who made common road journeys to Malaysia, Lee Hon Sing, expressed shock at how little cash he had to spend charging his automotive in the course of the journeys.

“In KL, the fast chargers are free to use. Even the chargers at my hotel, near Sunway Lagoon, were free as well,” he stated.

The IT programmer owns two electrical automobiles which he makes use of for these journeys – a Hyundai Kona and a Renault Zoe.

Before the borders have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Lee drove his Hyundai Kona, which is a long-range automotive, to Kuala Lumpur.

On paper, his automotive had sufficient vary to full the journey with out recharging however he was fearful and determined to cost at Ayer Keroh simply in case.

“It is possible to drive the car from my house near Jurong area to Kuala Lumpur. But the first time I did it, I was a bit scared,” stated Mr Lee. 

“I did a top-up at Ayer Keroh for 40 minutes. But when I reached KL, I did my calculations and figured out that even if I did not top up, I would have had 80km of distance to spare. So it’s actually quite safe, and the range balance is comfortable,” added the 57-year-old.

EV IKEA Tebrau

An AC charging station at IKEA Tebrau in Johor. (Photo: Koh Jie Meng) 

Mr Shahrol shared that the MyEVOC neighborhood has additionally prolonged recommendation and assist to Singapore drivers who’ve deliberate road journeys with their electrical automobiles.

“I remember in 2019 a Singaporean guy was driving a 20kW (Hyundai) Ioniq up to KL. He needed to charge along the way so we were guiding him. I think he eventually stopped in Seremban for a charge, some of us were ready to go there and help,” he stated.

“But fast forward to this year onwards, it’s pretty easy for any electric car to come up to Kuala Lumpur by fast charging at Ayer Keroh,” added Mr Shahrol.


For Singaporean electrical automotive house owners who need to drive to Johor Bahru over the weekend when the border reopens, Mr Koh stated a two-hour to three-hour congestion on the Causeway would solely cut back the battery life by round 3 per cent if the driving force units the air-conditioner at full blast. 

If drivers want to cost their automobiles, he identified that there are AC charging stations situated at IKEA Tebrau, a preferred procuring vacation spot for Singaporeans.

Mr Shahrol additionally famous that a lot of the lodges in Desaru Coast, a preferred seashore vacation vacation spot, have charging factors for electrical automobiles.

However, there needs to be extra DC charging factors throughout the nation, particularly on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, he added. 

Road journeys to the east coast may very well be dangerous as there are barely any charging factors, he stated.

“For trips to the east coast like Terengganu and Kuantan (in Pahang), Kelantan, it’s still a bit of a gamble, because there are only a few AC charging stations at some of the hotels in that area. It does require a bit more work, a bit more planning,” stated Mr Shahrol.

EV driver plan drive on east coast Malaysia

Driving alongside the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia requires planning. (Screenshot: Koh Jie Meng) 

Mr Koh recalled that he as soon as drove his Hyundai Kona from Singapore to Kuantan, a 340km journey on the east coast.

He knew that there have been no DC chargers alongside the journey so he wouldn’t suggest that route for drivers.

“My (Hyundai) Kona is a long-range car so it had enough to complete the journey, there was also enough charge to overtake trucks along the way,” stated Mr Koh.

Subang ABB DC charging point

This DC charging station put in at ABB Malaysia’s headquarters in Subang Jaya is free to use. (Photo: Koh Jie Meng) 

However, he had to journey inland the next day to Subang, close to Kuala Lumpur, to cost his automotive totally at a DC level earlier than heading again dwelling.

“When I arrived in Kuantan, I charged the car at my friend’s landed house for a bit. The next day, I drove to Subang for a fast charge,” he added.


Besides charging factors, one other issue that triggers nervousness for electrical automotive drivers is the shortage of restore choices if issues go improper.

Mr Shahrol, the MyEVOC president, stated that in case of breakdown or restore, there are merely “one or two” workshops in Kuala Lumpur that are ready to resolve EV restore points.

“For such services, it’s still quite early yet (for Malaysia). Only these workshops are good at repairing EVs and they know not to mess things up when they look at it,” he added.

Over the final 4 years, Mr Shahrol has had to ship his Tesla S 75 to Hong Kong twice for guarantee restore claims, after encountering points along with his central display screen.

Although the prices have been lined as his automotive was nonetheless underneath guarantee, he maintained that it will be extra handy if Malaysia had a Tesla workshop, or different electrical automotive specialised workshops.

“It’s just the inconvenience of loading it up into a container, going over there, servicing it, repairing it and transporting it back,” stated Mr Shahrol.

However, each Singapore drivers Mr Koh and Mr Lee stated they’ve been fortunate to date, and never skilled any breakdown or points with their automobiles whereas travelling in Malaysia.

Mr Koh stated: ”One factor that Malaysia doesn’t have is workshops to restore the EVs. So if something occurs, you could have to tow it again to Singapore on a flatbed.”

READ: IN FOCUS – Thailand poised to be regional leader in electric vehicle revolution, and all it needs is a spark

Mr Lee recalled that he was concerned in an accident, when his Kona was rear-ended by a Malaysian car at a visitors mild in Johor Bahru.

“When it happened, my first immediate thought was I now need to get a flatbed truck to tow it back to Singapore and it’s going to really cost me,” stated Mr Lee.

He stated that his automotive survived the hit, and solely suffered a small dent. Thankfully, he might nonetheless drive the automotive to the police station to make a report and subsequently again to Singapore.

According to a transport knowledgeable CNA spoke to, Malaysia doesn’t have electrical car restore services as a result of there’s a lack of human capital to help the EV trade.

Associate Professor Muhammad Zaly Shah, director of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s Centre for Innovative Planning and Development informed CNA: “We don’t have programmes to prepare mechanic and engineers to be environment friendly in sustaining electrical autos. So house owners have to ship their automotive again to producers abroad.”

“Addressing the manpower with the right technological know-how is a critical issue to support the EV industry,” he added.


Although purchasing an electric car would be more expensive that a petrol car, Mr Shahrol said a handful of Malaysians still prefer going electric because of the smoother driving experience.

“The biggest difference (between EV and petrol) is there’s no engine vibration, and you couple that with the fact that the torque of the motor is maximum when you start from standstill,” said Mr Shahrol.

“This means that when you push down the accelerator in heavy traffic, the car glides silently, so you can enjoy podcasts and music,” he added.

Based on May 2019 data, there are 194 battery EVs registered in Malaysia. In comparison, there are 1,274 registered electric cars in Singapore as of Jan 31 this year, according to the Land Transport Authority. 

Mr Shahrol said “more can be done” to make EVs a more viable choice for drivers in Malaysia, such as introducing tax incentives and making more infrastructure available.

He expressed concern that Malaysia is in danger of being left behind by neighbouring countries like Singapore and Thailand, which are staking out bold pledges to transition from internal combustion engine cars to electric.

“Malaysia launched its electric mobility master plan in 2015, which set targets for 2020 and 2030 and we’ve fallen way short of that. We are trying to tell the government that our neighbours are progressing, not only in helping users but also manufacturing, while we seem to be taking a wait and see attitude,” said Mr Shahrol.

“So enough of the waiting and seeing. Let’s get going,” he added.

Driving on landscape on east coast

Driving alongside the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia rewards drivers with picturesque views. (Photo: Koh Jie Meng) 

Mr Shahrol stated one optimistic signal is that Malaysia’s Ministry of Environment and Water is ready to launch a low carbon mobility motion plan in 2021.

“We look forward to that, hopefully there’s some positive news in terms of charging stations, more tax incentives for buying electric vehicles – the usual stuff that we have seen by governments in the region and around the world,” he added.

However, Assoc Prof Muhammad Zaly puzzled if the Malaysia authorities would merely again the transition provided that the electrical car trade may very well be seen as threatening the way forward for government-owned oil and fuel firm, Petronas.

He added that native automotive producers Proton and Perodua have additionally but to produce electrical automobiles.

He noticed that policymakers have to be seen to help corporations like Petronas, Proton and Perodua to guarantee they continue to be aggressive within the automotive trade.

“If (policymakers) want these local companies to survive, they must maintain petrol cars as the main option for users. If they transition to EV, Proton and Perodua cars would no longer have an edge over other brands,” stated Assoc Prof Muhammad Zaly.

He additionally maintained that Malaysia’s place because the second-largest oil and pure fuel producer in Southeast Asia would imply that it might stand to lose if extra nations transition to EV.

“The cost of petrol or diesel is relatively cheap in Malaysia, so even users would hesitate to switch their diesel or petrol-powered vehicles to electric,” he added.


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