In the the 12th Malaysia Plan (RMK-12) that was revealed in September 2021, prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that Malaysia aims to be a carbon-neutral country by 2050. “Other details for carbon reduction measures will be announced after the strategic long-term review of the low-carbon development strategies has been finalised by the end of 2022,” he said then.

Without a doubt, electric vehicles (EVs) will be part of the grand plan, with a switch from internal combustion engines to batteries and electric motors expected to reduce carbon emissions, especially when paired with cleaner electricity generation. That means gas power plants and other renewable sources in place of coal-fired ones, among other measures.

The government recently got the EV ball rolling by unveiling import and excise duty exemption for CBU EVs, valid till end-2023. Sales tax is also exempted till 2025 for CKD electric cars, which policymakers desire to see. But for EVs to truly go mainstream, the big local players will need to be onboard.

Market leader Perodua has already been approached and planning is underway, company president and CEO Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad revealed in today’s 2022 outlook media conference.

“We are now studying together with our partner (Daihatsu). We understand the requirements and targets by the government – they’re talking about carbon neutrality by 2050. In fact, they’ve asked us, based on the recent COP26, if they can expedite further to 2040.

“The government is targeting that by 2030, 15% of the TIV (total industry volume) will be EVs. We realise this, we’re making plans, and hopefully we can make an announcement very soon. Within this year, we will make an announcement on our future EV roadmap plan,” Zainal declared.

However, Perodua’s vision for the auto landscape in Malaysia differs significantly from the government’s. The market leader is expecting only 5% of TIV to be full EVs come 2030, compared to the government’s 15%.

“The 2030 TIV, they are looking at, if I’m not mistaken, beyond 700k – 700k to 725k. If u ask me about our vision and target, we’re looking at about 40% of that, and our volume will be beyond 320k, 320k to 325k. The government is forecasting that then, there will be about 15% of EVs, but based on Perodua’s internal studies, by 2030 I think the number will be around 5% and not 15%. This is what we think based on our current studies and the current development,” Zainal said.

Time will tell if it’s closer to 5% or 15%, but in any case, a future Perodua electric car will be affordable. That’s a non-negotiable point.

“We are not like other OEMs where they introduce electric cars because of technology or the environment. Perodua has one more priority, which is affordable. Affordable because we want to give Malaysians mobility, we want to let Malaysians enjoy this new technology. This study is basically how to make electrification affordable to Malaysians,” the P2 chief added.

To make EVs affordable for the masses, an “all of Malaysia” approach with collaboration between different players is vital, as no single party can shoulder the full burden.

“Collaboration with the others is very important. For example, if Perodua wants to do it all, product plus infrastructure, the investment is going to be huge. There should be a standard in the country regarding charging stations, there must be somebody who is willing to invest in the development of infrastructure – charging stations, meeting the grid requirements and all that. And we will come up with the product. If this kind of collaboration happens, I believe Malaysians can enjoy affordable EVs,” Zainal explained.

So, if Perodua is expecting only 5% of new cars sold in 2030 to be full EVs, what will be the majority from now till then? Probably this.