Two years after it unveiled its MyKar city electric vehicle concept, Malaysian start-up EV Innovations has come up with a new MyKar prototype dubbed the 3.0, and this one is based on a Perodua Axia.

The company, a subsidiary of local information and communication technology (ICT) provider System Consultancy Services (SCS), said work on the Axia Electric began earlier this year, with the project taking about a month to complete. The donor car is a base Axia, which has been stripped of its original combustion engine and drivetrain.

It its place inside the engine bay are the mechanical elements and electronics for the drive system, which sit on top of the 23 kWh capacity battery pack that provides the necessary juice. The battery offers about 220 km of travel on a full charge, and a six kW onboard charger means the unit can be juiced up in about four hours. The Type 2 AC charging port is neatly tucked behind the Axia’s fuel filler cap.

Unlike the original MyKar, which had its 10 kWh battery pack (later, 28.7 kWh in the 2.0 revision) located under the rear seat bench, the placement here was chosen because of the available space present and also because there was no need to tinker with the rear seats in any way.

Using an established platform, and only ditching the powertrain and drivetrain

As EV Innovations lead Ahmad Zaki Yaacob put it, the intent was to keep the project simple and retain much of the Axia’s functions and features as possible, showcasing what can be done in terms of a direct conversion. The seating remains stock, as are items like the side view mirrors, which in the earlier MyKar was made up of camera system and dual LCD screen viewers inside the car.

While the original MyKar had to utilise a solid-state air-conditioning system and a separate battery to power that, the Axia retains the use of its original AC system, with a 12 volt controller handling the necessary distribution for the AC as well as lighting elements and accessories, all running off the battery pack.

The inclusion of the electric drive system has added some weight to the car. The base Axia tips the scales at 820 kg, and electrification has added around nearly 70 kg to the mass. This puts it almost on par weight-wise to the previous MyKar, which featured a DK Composites fibreglass composite bodyshell – shaped along the lines of a Honda Jazz – siting on a ladder frame/tubular chassis fabricated by EV Innovations. That weighed 900 kg.

Same hub motors as before, but new controller and software

Like its predecessor, the Axia Electric is configured with a rear-wheel drive layout, and the two 12 kW hub motors are the same as that seen on the earlier MyKar, although a different controller is now used, the company saying that it is easier to implement.

The Axia rides on the same five double-spoke 14-inch alloys as seen previously, the choice of wheel size being to provide the necessary clearance for the hub motor. The configuration also means that the rear wheels visibly jut out from the side of the car, something that cannot be avoided with the hubs, despite the presence of a new axle.

Output remains as it was, at 24 kW (32 hp, but can double up to 48 kW or 64 hp at peak), while torque is now listed as 100 kg/m (980 Nm), although ratios mean that the pull numbers delivered will be lower than that. As for performance, the Axia Electric has a top speed of 128 km/h and a 0-100 km/h time of around 11 seconds, a substantial gain from the previous MyKar, which had a 104 km/h top speed and a 0-100 km/h time of 16.7 seconds.

Inside, the prototype is fitted with a large Android head unit mounted in the centre console. This offers not just telemetry display of the various parameters of the EV powertrain but also handles infotainment aspects. Elsewhere, a Jaguar-type small rotary dial in the centre is used to select the drive modes (R, N, D).

What a difference an established chassis makes

Like with the original, we had a short drive session with the Axia Electric, and the difference in housing what is essentially the same powertrain in a commercial, fully-formed monocoque chassis was readily apparent just a few hundred metres down the road.

For one, everything now felt more cohesive and car-like, not surprising given the kit car underpinnings of the previous MyKar. As before, the powertrain feels fairly responsive, tractable more than blistering. There’s a noticeable hum from the motors as you push off (and in the final stage of stopping), but once moving, the system moves the car smoothly up the speed range.

The drive wasn’t a long one, but it was still very easy to feel the sophistication injected by the inclusion of a proper chassis into the mix. Ambling along at 60-70 km/h, the car behaved and felt like a normal Axia, the stock suspension exhibiting good compliance on the whole, with only larger ruts catching out the rear in terms of stiffness.

We asked Zaki why the Axia was chosen instead of say, a Myvi, for the project, and his reply was that the car was picked because it was cheap, the intent also being to see how the system would shape up in a base level offering. In terms of development cost, the entire system (battery, electronics, motor, mechanical fabrication, battery tub and motor mounting) amounted to RM50,000, excluding the price of the Axia.

As before, EV Innovations is utilising the Axia Electric as a test bed to showcase the possibilities of the tech, the company saying that the modular system can be adapted to many cars, with the potential for EV conversions from ICE, should the law change for that in the future. He added that with enough scale, the price of such a system could drop to RM20,000.