As electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids become more popular among automotive brands, it begs the question: should we make the switch?
Before making such an important decision, it’s always good to get the facts before you go to the dealership and understand if an electric vehicle is right for you.
Electric vehicles are on the rise
Electric vehicles are definitely all the rage and the thought of buying one must have crossed your mind – you and everyone else to be exact. In fact, if you live in the Klang Valley, there are two EV expos lined up in July and September of this year alone.
Most of us can point out that one of the main benefits of electric cars is the contribution they can make to improving air quality.
Without a motor, electric cars produce no carbon dioxide emissions while driving. This is the key point about electric cars and their role in reducing air pollution, even after taking into account the energy output needed to run the vehicle.
The environment is not the only factor
Along with its positive impact on the environment, there are other benefits that may surprise even those most attached to their gas mileage. From the cost of running the vehicle to maintenance, these factors should be considered before making the switch.
Even if you play a part in reducing pollution, owning an electric vehicle may not be the right choice for you. It is important to understand that everyone has their own unique circumstances that may or may not benefit from purchasing an EV.
What do you need to know?
- Production of electric vehicles creates more carbon emissions
You could say that the production of electric vehicles actually creates more carbon emissions. On the one hand, that’s kind of true, because manufacturing the lithium-ion batteries essential for electric vehicles generates large amounts of emissions.
This manufacturing process itself represents more than a third CO2 emissions over the lifetime of a single vehicle.
However, research conducted by the European Energy Agencyfound that even with electricity generation, the carbon emissions of an electric car are around 17-30% lower than those of a petrol or diesel car.
- A long way to go to recycle the batteries of electric vehicles
More research and studies on the use of recycled batteries are also being conducted to increase the viability of electric vehicles as an alternative to fossil fuel cars.
Although it should be noted that battery recycling is still somewhat a prohibitive price and will certainly take some time before it becomes more affordable.
The most obvious difference between electric vehicles and regular cars is the environmental impact they cause due to carbon emissions. One of the reasons for this is the complete absence of fossil fuel engines in electric vehicles.
As such, it is even more environmentally friendly compared to hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles which still use fossil fuel engines in addition to their electric batteries.
It looks like electric vehicles are the way of the future. Many countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and even India are already swearing to ban petrol cars in the future to tackle carbon emissions, it will only be a matter of time before other nations catch up and follow suit.
Is it worth having an electric vehicle in Malaysia?
As with all things, there are a lot of things to consider before deciding to buy an EV. These vehicles have the potential to do good for our environment, but there could also be valid reasons why you wouldn’t want to buy one right now.
Key factors to consider:
1. Reduce carbon emissions
As mentioned earlier, electric vehicles could play a key role in reducing carbon emissions. Data collected over the years has shown us the undeniable proof that climate change is a real threat that is slowly getting worse.
As the population grows, more and more vehicles are put on the road, and gasoline-powered vehicles are one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions that negatively affect the climate.
With this in mind, electric vehicles are more than just a means of transport, they are also an opportunity to limit the damage that is continually being done to our climate. The environmental benefits alone make this new technology at least worth considering.
2. Cost effective for distance
If you’re worried that an EV battery can’t get you much distance, you might be surprised. While you certainly won’t go as far as a car with a full tank of fuel, electric vehicles with a full battery can cover a good distance at an affordable price.
Take the Perodua Myvi for example. According their website, the Myvi has a fuel consumption of around 21.1 km per liter with ecological driving, totaling around 760 km with a full tank. Based on recent gas price updatesa full tank would cost you around 73.80 RM for 95 RON.
On the other hand, let’s look at the Nissan Leaf, one of the electric vehicles currently available in Malaysia. It has a power of 40 kWh which allows it to travel up to approximately 311 km on a single charge. According to Nissan’s calculations, it would only cost Malaysians around RM20.64 to fully charge the battery. The cost savings are obvious and that doesn’t even take into account the engine power which is lower in a Myvi. For those installing their own personal charging station at home, that cost might even be lower.
3. Limited charging stations
Unfortunately, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine when it comes to owning an EV. Places like China and Europe are far ahead in the EV game, having already built a robust EV infrastructure with plenty of charging stations to reassure their owners. Compared to them, Malaysia is still at the entry level.
As such, it is much more difficult for Malaysians to find a charging station. However, you will need to be prepared and make sure to fully charge your vehicle before traveling long distances. This does not mean that we are completely short of charging stations. According to Reglobal, there are approximately 600 EV charging stations Across the country.
However, it should be noted that it takes a while to charge an EV car battery. Depending on the remaining charge and the power of the charger, recharging an EV battery can take between 30 minutes and 12 hours!
The most effective way to ensure your EV won’t run out of battery is to install a charging station in your own home so you can maximize the battery overnight, which brings us to our next point.
4. High cost of entry
Seriously! Electric vehicles are not cheap. While buying an electric vehicle is an effective way to help the environment, it’s also prohibitively expensive. And that’s not counting the cost of installing a charging station in your home!
Let’s take the Nissan Leaf as an example once again. The car currently costs around RM175,888. Not exactly the cheapest car option, especially for the B40 and some of the M40 finance groups.
If you were to look at the illustrious Tesla-branded electric vehicles, the price still skyrockets. Add to that the fact that home EV chargers can cost between RM5,000 and RM10,000 including installation costs, and you can see why buyers will not feel motivated to buy EVs.
This is one of the reasons why Malaysians choose to buy a gasoline-powered car instead, as it is more affordable than electric vehicles.
5. Take advantage of tax incentives
Fortunately, the government has introduced tax incentives to encourage more Malaysians to embrace electric vehicles. Since January 1, 2022, producers of electric vehicles can benefit from various tax exemptions, including on imports, excise duties and sales.
On the other hand, consumers can claim tax relief for owning an electric vehicle as part of the government’s efforts to lower the cost of adopting zero-emission vehicles.
Some of them incentives to understand:
- Imported electric vehicles (CBUs) enjoy full import and excise duty exemptions until the end of 2023.
- Locally Assembled (CKD) enjoy full import and excise duty exemptions, as well as Sales and Services Tax (SST) exemption until the end of 2025.
- EV owners are exempt from road tax and can claim a personal tax exemption of up to RM2,500 for costs related to EV charging equipment and services, including purchase, installation , rental and subscription fees for electric vehicle charging facilities, until the end of 2023.
6. Lack of experienced car maintenance
Just like gasoline-powered cars, electric vehicles will require regular servicing and maintenance to ensure safety and performance. In general, electric vehicles are relatively easier to maintain because they have fewer moving parts than gasoline-powered cars.
However, the availability of mechanics who have the skills to service electric vehicles is another story. The EV market in Malaysia is still in its infancy.
As such, you’ll likely need to take your EV to an official service center to have your car serviced or repaired, at least until the rest of the market catches up.
What you say?
Overall, the initial cost to get yourself an electric vehicle is quite high compared to a gas-powered vehicle.
On the bright side, the long-term savings could potentially offset this. Generally, EVs are a much more attractive option for those without financial problems, as long as they are prepared to support the slow growth of EV infrastructure.
In the end, it all depends on your financial situation. Even if you want to help reduce carbon emissions, you shouldn’t go to such lengths to buy an EV if it would ruin you financially.
One could consider hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles as a middle ground between gasoline-powered cars and electric vehicles. These vehicles still require the use of fossil fuels as their battery is more of an added feature.
While electric vehicles are still kings when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, hybrids are still a better environmental option compared to gasoline-powered cars. They are not as expensive as electric vehicles, which could be a major factor for most Malaysians.
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