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The Future of Electric Automotives Industries in Malaysia
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June 28, 2022 Blog

 

Written by: Khairul Haqeem, Journalist, AOPG.

During the first few months of the last pandemic lockdown, we saw nature cleanse itself of fossil fuel byproducts in a matter of days. Humans’ reliance on fossil fuels, while justified, is in desperate need of reform. Electric vehicles have captivated everyone’s attention over the years. The promise of green, economical and lower carbon footprint vehicles has pushed vehicle electrification past the tipping point.

Dr Rezal Khairi Ahmad, CEO of NanoMalaysia, feels that collaborating with Korean auto manufacturers such as Hyundai will help us to tap into the supply chain of electric vehicle components while also moulding our local talent to be highly competent in handling EV component manufacture on our own. Instead of taking a “David versus Goliath’’ approach against a corporation like Hyundai, Dr Rezal believes that such a collaboration will propel Malaysia to the level of Tesla and Mercedes while playing to our manufacturing niche.

Nonetheless, NanoMalaysia has a clear aim in mind: To enter the micro-mobility and two-wheeler vehicle markets. “In order for Malaysia to thrive in EV component manufacturing, we will have to resort to micro-mobility and two-wheelers, where the cost of patent ownership is significantly more affordable,” Dr Rezal added. The cost of electric vehicles in Malaysia is a worry; even with tax exemptions and tariff reductions, B40s and lower M40s will be hesitant to spend a little fortune on electric vehicles. Malaysia offers a myriad of locally skilled two-wheeler specialists, such as Modenas and Naza, whose skills can be employed for electric motorcycles or even the conversion of ordinary motorcycles to electric ones.

“On the opposite end of the spectrum,” Dr Rezal continues, “are buses and trucks, where Malaysia has the local competency to be a major electric buses and vehicles producer.” As the market for electric cars becomes saturated as everyone jumps on board, Malaysia will shift to a more niche market where the commercial potential and market prove to be as large, if not larger, than the market for electric automobiles. As a result, this generates opportunities for existing and new local talent, addressing some of the post-pandemic unemployment issues that exist today.

When asked about the implications of Malaysia’s total shift from petroleum to electric vehicles, Dr Rezal stated that Malaysia has made proactive first steps toward an electric vehicle future. Malaysia now has over 600 charging stations located throughout the country, representing approximately 5% of the original anticipated amount of charging facilities in 2018. Dr Rezal believes that charging infrastructure is a major consideration for EV commercialisation and normalisation as a mode of transportation. NanoMalaysia, for example, has presented its own concept, which is a solar charging station, for regions that cannot be reached by the grid. This type of solar charging station can handle EVs while also storing enough power to never run out.

When it comes to power, NanoMalaysia has planned a variety of projects. Dr Rezal is nice enough to disclose that, while graphene battery technology is garnering a lot of attention in the EV industry, it is actually quite dated, despite the fact that it is anticipated to make its debut as a solid-state or supercapacitor battery in a few years. Dr Rezal elaborated, saying that if lithium-ion becomes scarce due to the surge in popularity of electric vehicles, we may redirect our focus to another viable source for high energy density batteries. “The main goal is basically building a battery that will get you from Perlis to Johor in a single charge,” Dr Rezal explained.

A hydrogen cell is a renewable energy source with almost no downsides. To be honest, the Achilles’ heel of electric vehicles is the quick acceleration feature, which can be incredibly punishing on the battery. A hydrogen cell is being considered because it would provide the signature propulsion of electric vehicles without affecting the battery’s durability. Dr Rezal expressed NanoMalaysia’s significant interest in hydrogen cells, which will deliver a higher energy density per unit volume, and resolve concerns with lithium-ion batteries such as charging time. Furthermore, it will be a simpler converting experience for individuals who cannot buy a completely new electric vehicle and must settle for converting their old vehicles.

Electric vehicles will undeniably be a part of Malaysia’s automotive sector. The NanoMalaysia strategy to become an EV component tycoon is on the right track to bringing electric vehicles to the masses. After all, what good is being environmentally friendly if no one can afford it?

 

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