Renault Twizy MY 8

Beginning from August, Klang Valley residents will be able to rent electric vehicles on an hourly basis when the country’s first EV car sharing programme, called Cohesive Mobility Solution (COMOS), is officially launched. Users will be able to pick from three models, these being the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe and Renault Twizy.

The initiative, which is also the first of its kind in the ASEAN region, is a private/public partnership between CMS Consortium, Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) and Malaysian Green Technology Corporation (GreenTech Malaysia). Private company CMS Consortium operates under the care of NADI Manufacturing, which is controlled by Proton’s ex-chairman Datuk Seri Nadzmi Salleh. Ex-Proton MD Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin, meanwhile, is COMOS’ executive chairman.

At the programme’s start in August, a total of 30-40 EV units will be made available in a selected number of hot spots in KL. In November, operation is set to expand to Langkawi, with around 25 EVs being deployed on the island. As for public charging stations, 60 locations will be introduced in line with the programme’s introduction this year.

The network will make its way to Penang, Melaka and Johor Bahru as the phases unfold. Eventually, the aim is have 3,500 EVs in the COMOS loop nationwide by 2020. Travelling beyond the range scope of a single charge will also be a possibility – there are plans to have EV charging stations at every R&R along the North-South highway by the fifth year of the programme.

Renault Zoe MY 1

The programme, which had its soft launch yesterday evening in Putrajaya, doesn’t just cover EV car-sharing services but that of fleet management as well as all peripheral and related infrastructures.

In essence, COMOS is set to provide a complete run of E-Mobility services by integrating various parts of the EV ecosystem, including EV users, charging providers, fleet/parking management operators and telecommunication network associates. Initial capital for the project is RM5-7 million.

Vehicle-wise, the cars will be purchased by COMOS, the cost being recouped by rentals as well as through revenue generated by selling advertising space on the cars; there’s lots of potential in what constitutes open branding space on the move, according to Syed Zainal.

Syed Zainal also explained that COMOS is an open system, which means that any OEM can participate in the programme, subject to meeting COMOS’ standard requirements – the three vehicles in the first phase of the programme aren’t likely to be the only models equipping the fleet down the line. Something like the BMW i3 could well figure in the future, perhaps.

A quick aside on the topic of parking space, which is a likely issue to develop in downtown KL – Syed Zainal said that the project was working with DBKL on that particular element; the idea is that every car should have double that number in terms of parking spaces, so for starters there should be 120 plots for the initial phase of the programme. Current EV owners will be able to utilise the charging stations; they’ll have to sign up for a COMOS membership and pay for charging, of course.

As for the rental process, here’s a brief overview of how it works – first, you’ll have to sign up as a COMOS member (you can choose to go annual, or weekly, for membership), and in order to rent an EV, you’ll simply need to make a booking for it online through a mobile app. A grace period of around 20-30 minutes will be given for the reservation, at which point no one else can book the selected vehicle.

Once at the particular COMOS station, the user simply ‘checks in’ to pick up the key for the vehicle, before proceeding to tap a fleet card or scan a QR code on the Master Kiosk for authentication, after which one is good to go. The EV can be returned at any COMOS outlet, parked back at an appropriate EV parking bay and lined back to recharge.

Tapping the fleet card or scanning the QR code again ends the rental and completes the check out process. The transaction is charged by payment for individual users, or by the fleet provider in the case of corporate use, with the user receiving receipt of payment via SMS.

The rental rate is a ‘pay as you use’ type, working on an hourly basis. According to Syed Zainal, there’s no limit to how long you can choose to hold on to a vehicle. As for the hourly rate itself, he didn’t disclose the final sum, only saying that it would be “affordable, a little more than what it would cost you for a taxi.” The actual rate is set to be announced before the programme begins (sometime next month, it was said), and further details on the rental process and scope will also be fleshed out further.

Some notes about the vehicles involved. The Nissan Leaf is no stranger to readers, but the Renault Zoe and Twizy are fresh faces, for sure – both French EVs were making their first public showing in the country at the event. The B-segment Zoe can be viewed as an EV version of the Clio, but unlike the C-segment Fluence EV – which shares its name and general looks with the regular Fluence – the electric Clio has its own look and ‘branding’.

The Zoe is powered by a synchronous electric motor with rotor coil, with 65 kW and 220 Nm of torque for figures. Its official NEDC range is 208 km (130 miles), but the real-world range is around 144 km (90 miles) in temperate conditions.

As for charging, the Zoe comes with Renault’s patented Caméléon charger, which is compatible with all power levels up to 43 kW. Charging batteries at a charging station can take between 30 minutes and nine hours.

The Renault Twizy, meanwhile, is a kind of a cross between a motorcycle and a car, also powered solely by an electric motor. It has four wheels and sits two occupants in tandem, one behind the other like on a scooter or a bike, but wraparound bodywork and side deflectors offer some general protection from the elements (no windows though, so a downpour might be an issue).

The 2.33 metre-long Twizy weighs in at 450 kg, and has an operational range of around 100 km per charge and would be ideal for ‘last-mile’ applications. The lithium-ion battery fully charges in just 3.5 hours using a domestic electrical supply via a spiral cable stowed behind a flap at the front – the plug is a British Standard three-pin unit, and with a draw of around 10 amps, is safe for use in any wall power socket.

There’s of course the conundrum of whether it’s classified as a bike or a car in Malaysia, which will eventually determine what kind of licence you’d need to run it. I posed this question to Syed Zainal, who said that actual classification hasn’t been finalised by the JPJ as yet. He is trying to get it classified as a car, despite the ‘open’ architecture. The results, as well as full details of the programme, as things move closer towards the launch in August. The promise of it all sounds rather electrifying, if you pardon the expression.

GALLERY: Renault Zoe

GALLERY: Renault Twizy