During its question-and-answer session after its annual general meeting today, the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) revealed that 30 electric vehicles were sold in the country in February, against total vehicle sales of 43,722 units.

That seems like a tiny number in the grand scheme of things, but multiply that by 12 months and it will exceed the paltry 274 units that were sold here in 2021. With several models having already been launched since then – and plenty more to come over the course of the next two years – we can expect EV sales in the coming months to only grow from there.

President of MAA Datuk Aishah Ahmad said that demand has picked up “tremendously” since EVs became tax free this year, although she concedes that the numbers “are still very small.” She added that Malaysia’s charging infrastructure will have to be improved for there to be a meaningful take-up in electric cars.

“I think, going forward, we will see a lot more [EVs], especially when the infrastructure is ready to accept them. Right now, the problem is, in the west coast you have the ability to charge, especially with [DC fast chargers], but on the east coast as well as in Sabah and Sarawak, it’s not available.”

Earlier this month, we saw launch of the country’s first locally-assembled EV in the shape of the Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 AWD. Aishah said that many of MAA’s members are also planning to introduce CKD EVs in the future, but such initiatives take time. As such, the organisation has asked for an extension of the tax breaks.

“You cannot do CKD [local assembly] immediately – normally, to plan a model, you need four years,” she said. “So what we have requested the government is for them to consider extending the incentives for CBU [cars] for longer than the two-year period, to enable [companies] to do local assembly of EVs.”

Currently, the import tax, excise duty and road tax exemptions for CBU electric vehicles will only run until the end of 2023, after which the incentives will be limited to national and CKD models.