DRB-Hicom Defence Technologies (DEFTECH), a wholly-owned subsidiary of DRB-Hicom, has been appointed as the manufacturer of Malaysia’s first Super Quick Charge (SQC) Electric Vehicle (EV) – the Putra NEDO EV bus, operated in Putrajaya. The company will also be in charge of maintaining the charging infrastructure and the buses.

The SQC project is part of a technology transfer arrangement via a government-to-government agreement between Malaysia and Japan. This, after a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in 2015 between Putrajaya Corporation (PPj) and New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) of Japan.

The parties aim to demonstrate the benefits of EV buses and the accompanying super rapid charging system. This move marks the first step in making Putrajaya a greener city, and one that falls in line with the Malaysian government’s vision of turning Putrajaya into a sustainable, low-carbon and green city by 2025.

As for the EV buses, every unit is full-sized and measures in at 12 metres long. Again, the buses will be manufactured and maintained by Deftech, but it will be managed by Nadiputra, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PPj. The batteries on the other hand, will be imported from Japan.

The SCiB batteries are supplied by Toshiba, which uses lithium titanium oxide (LTO) in its anode to achieve excellent characteristics, such as safe operation, long lifespan, low-temperature performance, rapid charging, high input/output power and large effective capacity. SCiB has been widely used for vehicle, industrial and infrastructure applications, including automobiles, buses, railroad cars, elevators and power plants.

The battery, which is said to last up to 10 years with proper maintenance, also allows for rapid charging, requiring only 10 minutes for a full charge. Each bus has an electric cruising capacity of 30 km, and charging is done through an overhead pantograph (pictured below). Three SQC terminals are located in Putrajaya Sentral, with one more at the bus depot in Precinct 14.

According to Deftech, the technology used for the Putra NEDO EV bus is different compared to other EV buses in Malaysia, and possibly the ASEAN region as well. To add, other commercial vehicles typically require overnight charging, taking anywhere between six to eight hours for optimal operation.

Deftech has been entrusted to manufacture 11 single-decker EV buses, eight of which have already been supplied to PPj (the starting point for the EV buses is at the Putrajaya central station bus terminal) and are currently servicing two 23 km routes in Putrajaya and Cyberjaya. The remaining three units will be delivered next year.

Plans to build higher-capacity double-decker EV buses have been announced, but its development is challenged by existing road weight restrictions. Nevertheless, two units of the double-decker bus will be rolled out next year, although the pair will primarily be used for tourism purposes.

Earlier in August, Federal Territories Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Adnan Md Ikshan told The Star that he hopes Putrajaya can become the first model city in the world with zero-emission buses and that it is necessary to promote effective measures with a strong top-down policy to realise a green city.