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Perodua is current conducting a market study for hybrid vehicles in Malaysia. The carmaker has officially admitted that the Daihatsu Rocky e-Smart Hybrid spotted testing in downtown KL, even before it was launched in Japan, is theirs.

Perodua president and CEO Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad told media at the 2022 Perodua Myvi facelift preview event yesterday that the lightly disguised Rocky Hybrid tester on our roads is “for evaluation and study purposes” and more will be disclosed when the time is right.

The P2 chief added that the market study for hybrid models involve both the customer side and the regulatory side. “We’re doing market study, looking at the acceptance of Malaysian customers, the pricing level that they can accept, and to see whether our hybrid can meet regulations and requirement by regulatory bodies,” he said.

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Launched in its home market earlier this month, the Daihatsu Rocky e-Smart Hybrid is powered by a series hybrid system that has similarities to Nissan’s e-Power in the way it works. The SUV is powered exclusively by a 106 PS/170 Nm electric motor, with the WA-VEX 1.2 litre Atkinson-cycle three-cylinder engine acting solely as a generator. The petrol engine produces 82 PS at 5,600 rpm and 105 Nm of torque from 3,200 to 5,200 rpm.

This arrangement eliminates the usual transmission and places the electric propulsion motor and motor-generator units in parallel for a more compact layout – Daihatsu says the e-Smart Hybrid system will next go into JDM kei cars. Another benefit of the system is that the lithium-ion battery (4.3 Ah in this case) can be relatively small and cost-effective.

In addition, the Rocky Hybrid comes with a “Smart Pedal” that enables one-pedal driving, with normal and eco modes varying the throttle response. Increased sound insulation on the bonnet and under the engine cover and dashboard also muffle the sound of the engine when it is being used, DMC says. The Rocky e-Smart Hybrid’s claimed fuel efficiency is 28 km/l (3.6 litres per 100 km) on the WLTP cycle.

Of course, the Rocky is a twin of our Perodua Ativa, and the ready-made availability of a hybrid variant of the SUV makes the Ativa the most likely of current P2 models to receive electrification. Also, hybrids typically cost more than pure ICE models, and the Ativa’s buyer profile (replacement and additional car buyers, according to P2) would be the most likely to pay extra for a greener and more advanced car, compared to the target market of other P2 models.

The Daihatsu Rocky e-Smart Hybrid is priced from 2,116,000 (RM77,000) to 2,347,000 yen (RM85,400) in Japan. More on the JDM model and its differences from the Ativa here. RM10k more, would you?

GALLERY: Daihatsu Rocky e-Smart Hybrid