Proton believes that while it is ready to introduce electric vehicle (EV) technology into the market, more preparation is needed before the business of electrification can take place. For one, a direction has to be determined and a policy outlined by the government before it can proceed, according to Proton Edar CEO Roslan Abdullah.

“We as manufacturers cannot move until we understand the rules. In terms of EV products, we need to look at our ability to be able to export certain products to neighbouring countries that have a clear direction regarding EVs. If its rules and investments provide good returns for stakeholders, why not? So we need to know the rules and direction set by the government. Once the ‘door is open,’ we’ll move on,” he said.

As it awaits clarity on the country’s electrification direction, the national automaker is carrying out a feasibility study on the right EVs that can be introduced in the country, The Malaysian Reserve reports. Roslan said that aside from determining the tech, many factors have to be taken into consideration, including pricing, consumers’ affordability, after-sales aspects and customer experience.

“We could bring the technology, but the question is what would happen to after-sales in the next five years? We are not looking at selling the product alone but throughout the customer experience of owning an EV car as well,” he said in an online interview recently.

“How many consumers can afford an EV? In Malaysia, a part of the forces in dictating sales is price affordability. If we have to bring down the price level, would it meet certain regulations later on, if any? These are key points we are looking at in determining to bring EVs. We (need to) look for the right product and the right time,” he explained.

Asked if the automaker would set up a new company to just focus on EVs, Roslan said all options were there but it was too early to tell. “Let’s finish assessing the product first. As for the business model, we want to organise how we can benefit consumers as well as stakeholders,” he said.

Even as regional neighbours such as Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore continue to ramp up their electrification efforts, the country has not yet announced its agenda on that front. A suggestion of how Malaysia’s EV policy would look like was offered with the Low Carbon Mobility Blueprint (LCMB) 2021-30 that surfaced into public view last week, but it remains to be seen how the final roadmap will shape up.