Published on August 10th, 2021 | by Joshua Chin0
PEKEMA & MARII Partner On EV Infrastructure Development
Don’t hold your breathe thinking that this will mean wider EV adoption locally though.
While most Malaysians are perhaps resigned to the fact that we might still be pumping good ol’ jungle juice into our cars long after the rest of the world has moved on to an electrified future, there could actually be some recent developments to change this. That is because the Malaysia Automotive Robotics And IoT Institute (MARII) and Persatuan Pengimpot & Peniaga Kenderaan Melayu Malaysia (PEKEMA) have recently signed a memorandum of association for the development of a connected EV infrastructure, not to mention the establishment of an EV Centre of Excellence too.
As with any good news that occurs in Malaysia however, there are nevertheless a few asterisks attached to this story. Not least of which being the fact that this plan looks to only be for the benefit of grey import EVs, with the rather embarrassing fact that it might not even be too effective in that goal too. And the reasons as to why this might be the case is already quite apparent from the get go, as the first agenda for the signing of this MoU essentially just translates to the granting of subsidies to PEKEMA members (read: AP holders) for the installation of rapid chargers in their dealerships.
Yes, that is basically all for the ‘development of a connected EV infrastructure’ part of this plan by PEKEMA and MARII. Just to add more salt to the open wound too, this was followed up immediately with a statement that was basically a whinge about this effort being slowed down somewhat during this time, due to the association’s line of work being categorised as non-essential during this ongoing lockdown.
Moving swiftly onto the other big agenda at hand meanwhile and discussing further in regards to the development EV centre of excellence, this longer term joint venture between the two aforementioned parties here is apparently set to be a training centre to upskill mechanics in the field of EV maintenance and repair. There are also visions of it being a local hub of information in this particular field, when this project up and running 5 years down the line.
In speaking of visions too, PEKEMA has stated that it envisions for MARII (and by extension MITI) will aid in seeing these two endeavours through to its completion. The association also (rather ambitiously) hopes that other ‘mega corporations’ will be willing to work with them in their electrification ambitions, in order to create a greener automotive climate in Malaysia.
Now credit where credit is due first, both these endeavours does actually forward Malaysia’s electrification aims in its own small ways. The installation of rapid chargers at these dealerships for instance might lead to the greater importation of grey market EVs, while the establishment of the technical training centre will mean that there will be skilled workers here that are able to take care of said imported electric vehicles.
That said though, it is worth asking the question as to whether or not there is even local demand for grey import electric vehicles in the first place? This is especially given that the charging infrastructure locally doesn’t look to be improving anytime soon outside of the dealerships from where those EVs came from.
It is also worth noting too that with cars getting more connected these days, would the EV centre of excellence be able to solve the problem in obtaining and installing the necessary software updates for these grey import EVs? There also lies the question for warranties, as well as incentives too.
Looking at the bigger picture however, the main question that should be on everyone’s lips is why MARII isn’t formulating a comprehensive EV road map for Malaysia, much like what our Southern and Northern neighbours have done? And is instead just agreeing to small incremental steps like this partnership with PEKEMA here, which is more than likely not going to be anywhere sufficient to mass electric vehicle adoption over here.
With this in mind therefore, it should come as no surprise then that we are woefully behind the rest of the world right now when it comes to electrifying out automotive industry. And what is more embarrassing is the fact that we are constantly slipping further and further back every passing day.