By Anthony Dylan

Nowadays, we have been slowly exposed to the EV. What is an EV anyways? The EV is an acronym for Electric Vehicles. The models for purely electric run vehicles currently seem to be on the upper segment of the market. The use of lithium-ion batteries to run on a full charge would then thereafter, demand a recharge. It works like your smart device whether on android or iOS. You need to recharge.

Whilst we have seen car manufacturers touting a fully electric vehicle, it is currently targeted to those with high disposable income. The current Malaysian system is still not ready for the EVs to be the mainstay of choice. This is a huge challenge when those who speak about having affordable EVs created for the other market segments. The control of power still lies with the Government.

Our petrol and diesel prices are controlled by the Government. The RON 95 petrol is also subsidized. This made some commotion when the borders from Singapore to Malaysia were reopened. People forgot that foreign registered cars were not allowed to pump the RON 95. In Singapore, they have the 95 and 98 versions whilst in Malaysia; we have the 95 and 97 versions. At the moment of writing, our RON 95 is around RM2.05 per litre whilst in Singapore is around SG3.20 per litre. At the exchange rate of RM3.20 = SG1, their petrol per litre for RON95 is RM10.22. Hence, we cannot fault them for trying their luck to fill up.

The current Ukraine and Russia conflict along with the less than surprising antics of the USA had no doubt affected the energy sector. The shipping ports in China were mostly affected by the zero tolerance of Covid 19 infections by China. Hence, why there was a stop-go situation in the shipping industry creating backlogs.

In Malaysia, going electric is not just for cars. It has spawned the influx of electric scooters and electric bikes. These are meant to be used on small roads and not on main roads. The following were taken from a statement by the Minister earlier.

“The ministry of transport has said that certain micromobility vehicles are banned from being used on roads. As reported by The Star and FMT, transport minister Wee Ka Siong said this ban had been gazetted under the Road Traffic (Prohibition of Use of Certain Microbility Vehicles) Rules 2021 and had been in effect since December 17, 2021. 

According to the ministry, micromobility vehicles refer to those powered by electricity, an internal combustion engine, or human power, or human power combined with any of the previously mentioned two, with a maximum speed of 50 km/h. “We want to enforce this because more and more micromobility vehicles are being used on the road of late. This can pose a danger not just to the users but also to other road users,” Wee said. 

The ban covers mopeds, personal mobility aids (i.e. motorised wheelchairs, mobility scooters) and personal mobility devices (i.e. e-scooters, hoverboards, skateboards, kick scooters). “The public can use these devices. But they cannot use it on public roads where these vehicles will mix with other motor vehicles and put everyone at risk,” Wee clarified. 

While bicycles are also considered a type of micro-mobility vehicle, Wee explained that these were not prohibited from roads, although riders must still comply with existing rules under the Road Transport Act and Road Traffic Rules like not cycling on highways”

We are all aware of how dangerous this can be when on the main roads. It is worse when some even used modified bicycles on the main roads. Accidents have happened before. Hence, we should really need lanes for bicycles and motorcycles to help with mobility across long distances.

Earlier this year, a Singaporean couple first drove a Tesla in and in subsequent weeks we hear of more Singaporeans working their way up to KL on an EV. They have managed to plan their route to have their vehicles recharged in allocated stations. In the beginning we used to see such facilities in some shopping centres.

The charge time for up to 80% using a super-fast DC charger is around 30 minutes. If you were to use the normal AC types meant for charging batteries, then expect at least 1.5 hours. Household ones would take up to half a day. To have a super-fast charger would mean having to have enough juice to supply. Nowadays, charge stations would charge from RM20 for every 5 minutes. It is noted that some said with 80% charge for about 30minutes at about RM120 would give you about 380km. It is not cheap, and neither is the car.

Alternatively, if you have an appetite to try something new; then a hybrid is a better bet. It runs with a petrol and electric powered combination. The car would be heavier but normally this is compensated with a smaller fuel tank. In the context of Malaysia, this is more practical. The only fear is the future resale value of the car after 5 years as the battery warranty would normally end between 5 to 8 years.

Are Electric Vehicles environmentally friendly? My answer based on opinion is No. They have lithium-ion batteries which are made of earth’s minerals. You would need to mine them, just like petroleum. Gas is a byproduct of petroleum. Batteries have a capacity lifespan. Recycling would be a question which remain unsatisfactorily answered. So, you can forget about touting yourself wanting an EV because you thought it was cleaner and environmentally friendly. The power source is the difference between petrol, hybrid and electric vehicles. In the end, electricity comes from your coal plants or hydro power plants. What you have is just a lithium-ion battery.

This is an innovative technology which comes with a high initial cost which would not normally increase your vehicle value over time. The more affordable choice of a chance is the hybrid. Costs of an EV infrastructure and the control of pricing may have to come into play before an adoption of the EV can be affordable. I dare say that the future is not with the EV but with the hybrid. At least in the next 20 years.