When it comes to regular internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicles, do not expect further incentives by the government for the auto industry and car buyers, as policymakers are focused on electric vehicles (EVs) now. This was conveyed by Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president Datuk Aishah Ahmad at the auto club’s 2022 review yesterday.

“As far as I know, we’re not expecting anything on ICE cars because the focus of the government right now is on EVs. We have a MITI task force on EVs that meets every month to discuss EVs, and all the government agencies and ministries are all there to discuss what needs to be enforced to make sure that EVs sell in Malaysia,” Aishah said when queried on incentives for buyers of regular cars.

“The focus is to make sure that it’s a green environment by 2050. The focus is more on EVs,” she added, referring to Malaysia’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2050, announced in the 12th Malaysia Plan in 2021.

Hybrids are seen as a stepping stone to full battery electric vehicles, the first step of the electrification ladder. They’re proven in the market, a known quantity, and less expensive than EVs. Japanese giants Toyota and Honda were the first to champion hybrids more than a decade ago, and both are still in the game today thanks to government incentives. Aishah said that MAA will lobby for that to continue.

“Hybrids, we also will be appealing to the government to continue and improve on hybrid incentives, because people will first buy hybrids before they convert to EVs. The government has not really scaled down on hybrids (incentives),” she said. However, hybrid incentives will not last forever. “Even for EVs, they intend to reduce incentives once there are more on the road,” she added.

It was always unlikely for car buyers to get more sweets from the government, which in case you forgot, isn’t exactly flush with money. The pandemic brought about a sales tax exemption programme that was extended a couple of times, and many had already enjoyed the SST savings, as seen by last year’s record TIV.