The race to adopt electric vehicles in Southeast Asia is heating up, and Brunei is the latest to throw its hat in the ring. The oil-rich Borneo nation is launching its EV pilot project in just three days on March 25, according to a report by The Star.

Its Minister of Transport and Infocommunications (MTIC) Dato Seri Setia Awang Abdul Mutalib broke the news during the 17th Legislative Council (LegCo), responding to a question by members Iswandy bin Ahmad and Haji Ramli bin Haji Lahit. Awang said that Yang di-Pertuan Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has consented to the two-year programme.

The policy is said to be one of the ten main strategies under the Brunei Darussalam National Climate Change Policy (BNCCP), aimed at addressing climate change. The MTIC ministry and the ministry of energy has set up a task force on electric cars in collaboration with the Brunei Climate Change Secretariat (BCCS).

The project will involve different stakeholders and will be concluded after the two years with an assessment and study to gauge public response and effectiveness, the report stated. It’s said that the programme will allow authorities to assess the feasibility of domestic sales and evaluate the requirements and infrastructure to support electric vehicles.

Brunei is targeting 60% of total vehicle sales to be made up of electric models by 2035, said permanent secretary of energy Haji Azhar bin Haji Yahya. If achieved, it would cut out around 0.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to planting 4.6 million trees.

“The project is in line with the BNCCP which will pave the way towards low carbon emission and the country’s resilience in facing climate change, ” said Haji Azhar.

The Land Transport Department’s acting director Mohammad Aizam bin Haji Abdul Hamid also said that the pilot will determine the country’s long-run results and plans, adding that “the issue of charging station and maintenance as well as financing and insurance will be addressed in the pilot project.”

Elsewhere, the country’s Borneo Bulletin has reported that Brunei has prioritised the Belait and Temburong districts for the installation of charging stations, as part of another pilot project under the ministry of development’s Green Protocol under BCCS.

The announcement was made during the same LegCo session by minister of energy Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Mat Suny in response to LegCo member Haji Emran bin Haji Sabtu’s query regarding the pilot project. The minister said that identifying a strategic locations for charging stations is one of the actions in the project, taking to account the public’s needs.

“As an initial step, the government is collaborating with Brunei Shell Marketing for the installations of the EV charging stations at a number of locations in the country,” Awang Haji Mat Suny said. He added that that the government is opening up opportunities to the private sector and commercial building owners to install the stations on their premises to encourage more confidence in the use of EVs.

As for wallbox home chargers, the Electricity Authority of Brunei Darulssalam will be issuing a set of safety guidelines for its use and for public reference, said Awang Haji Mat Suny.