It’s no secret that, like most carmakers in the world, Perodua is also looking into making electric vehicles. The national carmaker has already given us a taste of what it might look like with the eM-O concept, but now, we’re finally getting a hint at when and how that might happen.
Speaking to The Edge in an interview recently, Perodua president and CEO Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Ahmad said that electrification “is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’”, as the government has already set targets for EV penetration rates for the industry.
To that end, the local carmaker is looking at a variety of ways to bring the Malaysian automotive ecosystem up to speed on mass market EV production, particularly through upskilling its vendors to produce EV related parts.
The biggest roadblock for a Perodua EV, however, is affordability. “Another challenge is to price the cars so they are affordable for most Malaysians. We do not have the capability to do this on our own,” he told the publication.
“To overcome this, we are actively working to bridge this gap with the full support of our partners, we are confident that we will be able to produce something in the near future.”
The aforementioned local production is key, as current regulations laid out by the Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry (MITI) places a hard floor for the pricing of imported EV models at RM100,000 as a means to incentivise local production. To achieve a pricing suitable for the rakyat, there is currently no other avenues other than to set up a manufacturing line locally in Malaysia.
Perodua currently sees EVs as complementary to ICE cars. However, that will soon shift – especially in our local automotive industry – as the government commits to its carbon-neutral targets as soon as 2030. The recently announced National Energy Transition Roadmap is targetting an 80% penetration rate for new energy vehicles by 2050.
Before that can happen, however, Zainal says that there needs to be a wider coverage of public charging facilities, among other factors. “While electric chargers are available in big cities, these stations are still scarce in rural areas, making it difficult for EV users to travel beyond urban centres,” he said.
“Most drivers are not yet ready to face the hassle of recharging their cars and still prefer spending four to six minutes to refuel. But that may change as advances are made in fast-charging and longer-charge storage. We suspect that most potential EV buyers prefer to defer their purchases until after a sufficient number of charging stations is available.
“Standardisation of charging fees would also be beneficial for a quicker adoption of EVs, as most consumers are still unsure how the charging cost is calculated,” he added.
Perodua has already begun its electrification journey with the introduction of the Perodua Ativa Hybrid last year, albeit at a very small scale – only 300 units available on a subscription basis, as a long-term EV study.
Of course, the Perodua Ativa Hybrid is essentially a directly rebadged Daihatsu Rocky e:Smart Hybrid, and it’s safe to assume that future Perodua EV models will also be relying on Daihatsu’s technology. However, Daihatsu does not yet have a fully electric model.