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Guide to electric cars in Malaysia

If you’re looking for a more sustainable way to get around, an electric car could be right for you.

Cheaper to fill up and better for the environment, the benefits of electric vehicle (EVs) are leading more and more people to make the switch.

In this guide, we cover the basics of EV cars, the benefits of an electric car, and whether they’re really worth it.

What is an electric car?

An electric car is a vehicle that runs on electricity instead of petrol or diesel.

Thanks to their increasing popularity and mass-production, EV cars are becoming more affordable. There are various EV manufacturers with a range of makes and models to choose from.

The 2 most popular types of EVs are 100% (or 'pure') electric vehicles and hybrids.

100% electric vehicles

These cars are powered solely by rechargeable batteries.

Just like any other electronic device, you plug it in to recharge it. When charged, the batteries power an electric engine that gets you moving.

Hybrid vehicles

Hybrids can combine the best of worlds, typically using both a battery-powered motor and a petrol or diesel engine.

The different types of hybrids on the market include:

  • full hybrids, which use an electric motor and combustion engine independently or simultaneously
  • mild hybrids, which use an electric motor to assist the combustion engine
  • plug-in hybrids, which can be plugged in to charge the electric batteries

Hybrids can be cheaper than fully electric vehicles, and they’re less dependent on electric charging points. They can be a good transition into the EV market, and as they generally use less fuel and emit less CO2 than traditional engines, they’re typically better for the planet.

What are the benefits of an electric car?

There are a range of advantages to driving an electric vehicle.

Sustainable driving

Are electric cars good for the environment? Well, while the initial production of an electric vehicle can emit more CO2 than a standard vehicle, an EV’s carbon footprint is usually lower at the end of its lifecycle. And the difference can be much bigger if your electric car is charged with electricity generated from a renewable source as opposed to fossil fuels.

If you do decide to buy an electric car and plan to charge it at home, it’s worth checking if your energy supplier uses renewable energy as it can significantly reduce your overall emissions.

Cruising in comfort

An electric motor is much simpler than a traditional engine, so EVs can be quicker to accelerate and feel lighter to drive.

If you’ve seen them about in public, you’ll probably have noticed the engines are much quieter, too. Some electric cars are even fitted with acoustic sound systems for when they’re reversing or driving slowly as a safety precaution to ensure pedestrians can hear them.

Cheaper running costs

Thanks to having less mechanical components than their petrol/diesel counterparts, electric cars can have lower maintenance and servicing costs.

And as electricity is generally cheaper than petrol and diesel, they typically cost less to drive. Throughout the lifecycle of your vehicle over hundreds of thousands of kilometres, this can really add up.

Government incentives

Depending on the make and model of the electric vehicle, you may benefit from various government incentives. These include:

  • import and excise taxes exemptions
  • sales tax waiver
  • road tax exemptions
  • MYR500 personal tax exemption for EV
  • charging hardware and services

Ask your car dealership for the most up-to-date information when asking about an EV.

Things to consider

Although there are quite a few advantages of electric cars, there are some things you should take into consideration.

Charging time

While charging overnight gives you plenty of time to fully replenish your batteries, charging on the go can be slower.

Depending on the vehicle you have and the charging point you’re using, it can take from under an hour to several hours for a full charge. As the technology improves and electric cars become more popular, you might expect this problem to diminish over time, but it’s worth considering how this will affect you before buying.

Finding a charging point

It’s common for people to recharge their vehicle at home during the night so it’s ready to go in the morning. But if you need a top up when you’re out driving, you can find public electric charging points.

However, as EVs are relatively new to the Malaysian market, this might not always be that easy, especially if you're travelling outside of urban areas or on a long trip and run out of charge. 

While a quick Google search for EV chargers nearby will tell you the availability in your area, it's always best to fully charge your vehicle before travelling long distances.

Initial cost

Electric cars are typically more expensive than petrol and diesel options, especially as you may need to add the cost of getting a home-charger installed.

As more models come to the market, cheaper options become available, but you can generally expect to pay more for an EV car than a petrol or diesel car.

If you're ready to upgrade to an electric car, you may be eligible for HSBC Amanah Personal Financing-i. Use our financing calculator to calculate your monthly payments. Enter the amount that you'd like to apply for and the duration of your financing, and we'll calculate your monthly payment, total payment and profit rate.

Explore more: Understanding credit

Other sustainable travel choices

If you want to reduce your environmental impact, some other travel options to consider are:

  • public transport, including trains, buses and trams
  • cycling
  • walking
  • car sharing

While some are more practical than others depending on the journey, it feels good to travel sustainably knowing that you’re doing better for the planet.

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