If not now, when?

LOCKDOWNS brought about by the global Covid-19 pandemic have shown the world that it is possible to drastically cut down air pollution, especially in urban centres.

Many studies have shown that air pollution, especially in high-density urban areas, has a devastating long-term public health impact. One recent study from the Ontario Public Health Association in Canada called “Clearing the Air” found that replacing one internal combustion-engined (ICE) car with an electric vehicle (EV) can have as much as C$10,000 (RM31,000) in positive social benefits. In addition, many countries around the world are leveraging on stimulus packages used to combat the economic slowdown resulting from the pandemic to pivot away from massive reliance on ICE vehicles towards a greener EV landscape.

Germany, a country known for its excellence in ICE automotive engineering, has taken the bold step of offering purchase incentives of up to €9,000 (RM43,000) for EVs. The same stimulus package is also requiring all petrol stations to provide EV charging stations.

Indeed, now is the time for Malaysia to shift its focus on legacy ICE car manufacturing and kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. One is to bootstrap our local auto manufacturing industry and the other is to help protect our environment and, consequently, public health. I was disappointed when the recently announced Penjana stimulus package did not have any initiatives geared towards the pivot from fossil-fuelled transportation to green transportation.

However, there is still time to take action. For example, it is still not too late to put into place initiatives such as:

1) Import and excise duties exemption for 25,000 EVs with a range of more than 200km.

2) Import and excise duties exemption for EV rapid charging equipment, including for energy storage.

3) Approved Permit waiver for energy storage equipment.

4) Time of Use tariff (offering different tariff rates at different times of the day) for residential customers.

5) Separate tariff category for charging point operators.

6) Legislation to ensure that more residential and commercial developments are equipped to support EVs.

Some of these initiatives can be made to be self-limiting, designed to kick-start the EV ecosystem rather than being a permanent crutch. Given the amount of subsidies that have been given to fossil fuels in Malaysia (RM4.89bil was allocated for the first 11 months of 2018, according to the Finance Ministry), the investment to start moving away from our dependency on fossil fuels seems trivial by comparison.


Founder, Malaysian Electric Vehicle Owners Club

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