Are you using Touch n Go’s RFID to pay tolls yet? If like me, you’re not on-board yet for whatever reason, here’s a convenient alternative that requires no learning of new habits. Launched this morning, LokaTAG is basically the SmartTAG that we’re all familiar with, but the device is fixed permanently to your car.

Like the built-in Touch n Go card reader in the current Perodua Myvi, Haval cars and the optional accessory from UMW Toyota Motor, the LokaTAG device has a slot for your TnG card, and a backlit screen that shows remaining card value, card error and low credit alert (below RM10). Unlike SmartTAG, it doesn’t need a battery and draws power from your car’s power socket, which means it’s compatible with virtually all vehicles.

The card reader module is connected by wire to a small antenna, which is stuck on the windscreen (inside the car). This means that LokaTAG users will no longer need to physically take out and “show” the SmartTAG device at toll booths, and store it after use. Like the portable MaxTag, which is similar to the discontinued SmartTAG, LokaTAG uses infra-red technology by Austrian company Efkon.

With RFID now available, is IR-based electronic toll collection a dying tech? Not at all, according to both MaxTag sales figures (it was launched in September 2018) and Efkon Asia director Helmuth Blasch.

“Market response to the portable MaxTag has been excellent with average monthly sales of about 12,000 units. As for our built-in toll readers, we currently have five major car brands featuring our customised products with more coming on-board soon. The combined total monthly sales of the portable and built-in units are about 25,000 units,” Blasch said.

“We expect the infrared electronic toll collection system to continue playing a significant role in this country for years to come. It has proven to be the most reliable, efficient, convenient and cost-effective cashless toll collection system in facilitating multi-lane traffic flow on Malaysian highways,” he declared.

Blasch added that Efkon is constantly investing in R&D to enhance the features of IR toll readers, and we can look forward to voice alert and Bluetooth functions in the future. The latter will enable interaction with smartphones and the car’s media system, for instance.

“LokaTAG is the first and only authorised built-in toll reader for the aftermarket, and we believe there is a high number of car owners who will appreciate the peace of mind and convenience of a seamless ride. For a start, we are targeting sales of about 1,000 units a month,” said Lokatech Engineering’s GM Ng Shyh Kang.

As for installation, it’s already factored into LokaTAG’s RM499 purchase price, if you’re in the Klang Valley, Penang or Johor. The company has teamed up with Maxx N Go, which offers door-to-door car servicing. Maxx N Go will arrange with the LokaTAG buyer for the free installation to be done at his/her home or office. If the purchaser is located outside of Maxx N Go’s range, a LokaTAG dealer will be in charge of installation. There’s a one-year warranty.

LokaTAG is sold on Shopee Malaysia, and there’s a 0% easy payment plan available for just RM1 extra, taking the price to RM500. So, what do you think of this aftermarket built-in toll card reader? Are you sticking with the IR-physical TnG card team, or switching alliances to the RFID-eWallet side?