Running an EV in Malaysia is between 11.4% to 28.3% cheaper than petrol vehicles using RON 95 – TNB


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The recent Electric Vehicle Expo (EVx) 2022 highlighted the inroads being made by electrification in Malaysia, and though things are still very much at a nascent stage for the new format, there’s no denying that it’s gaining traction at a very good rate.

Dissemination of the tech is happening at a fast pace, with proponents usually pointing to the many benefits to battery EVs, using the zero emissions or ‘saving the planet’ angle, drawing on the lack of exhaust fumes and noise. Performance aspects are also cited with regularity, as is usability in terms of mileage and movement. While running costs are also touted, the mentions aren’t always specifically detailed.

Tenaga Nasional (TNB) has chosen to offer a take on that aspect. The National utility company, which is at the heart of the electrification movement (quite literally, given that it is the provider of the most important element that binds everything together), has revealed the findings of a study it conducted comparing the costs of EV charging vs petrol use in conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

The data was presented in a couple of infographics shown on an electronic display at its booth in EVx. In these, TNB compares the running costs of ICE vehicles vs full electrics, purely from a fuel perspective, without adding in elements such as servicing and maintenance.

The study puts an average distance travelled per year by a vehicle at 28,188 km (or 2,349 km a month), with the comparison sampling six car segments (B-segment hatchback and SUV, C-segment hatchback, compact executive sedan and SUV, and executive sedan sedan).

Both RON 95 and RON 97 petrol grades were used to help establish ICE running costs, although the latter’s price, which is quoted at RM3 per litre, suggests that the study was undertaken a while back, before it hit record-breaking levels.

Meanwhile, the focus on charging is made from a domestic angle, with the cost of home charging quoting a rate of 0.571 sen per kWh, which is the highest tier in a residential electric bill, for kWh used beyond 901 kWh. It is assumed that with an EV present, electricity use for a household is likely to go right into the tier five rate every month, unless you don’t happen to own a fridge and television or run an air-conditioner at all.

Even then, you won’t be in the lowest tier (under 200 kWh of use) with an EV, unless you charge the car only once a month and your travel distance is just a couple of hundred kilometres every month. Although the calculations are centred around home charging, the infographic also gives a rate of 0.79 sen per kWh for public chargers and a conservative RM1 per kWh for Level 3 rapid charging.

Other factors, including cost-related elements, are also included. As there is some energy loss during the charging process, TNB has put EV charging efficiency at 88%, 12% being counted as that loss. Also listed is the cost to own a home charger, which is put at RM900 a year.

The price above would fall very much in line with the cost of an externally sourced 11/22 kW charger over a five-year timeframe, with payment spread equally over the period. Presently, some chargers are hovering around the RM2k zone, and installation costs can be anywhere from RM2-2.5k, which is the total if you look at the RM900 yearly cost split over a period of five years.

Of course, going the external third-party route means you’ll have to fork out the total sum upfront, with the savings gained over the long term. Right now, most of the EVs on sale offer a Wallbox/charger bundled along with the car, and that cost would be included into the monthly repayment for the vehicle.

The cost breakdown as calculated by TNB works out to this: the average annual fuel cost (over the yearly 28.8k distance travelled) for an ICE vehicle using RON 95 petrol works out to RM5,335 (or RM445 a month), while that for an ICE vehicle running RON 97 is put at RM7,808 (or RM650 a month). Bear in mind that for the latter, the calculations were made with the fuel at RM3 per litre, so it will be much higher at the present rate of RM4.65 per litre.

Conversely, it would cost an average of RM4,725 (or RM394 a month) in terms of electricity – as well as the RM900 yearly price of the charger – to operate a battery electric vehicle over the same distance.

Remove the annual cost of the charger and this drops to RM3,825 a year (or RM318.75 a month), but it is worth remembering that there is no free lunch here, since the cost for a home charger has already been factored in (to the monthly loan repayment). You’re still paying for it one way or another.

The utility company also breaks down the price comparison per vehicle segment, and though not stated, is projecting its cost findings based on the rated/claimed mileage listed for models in both ICE and EV segments. Although it doesn’t provide any details on which ICE models were chosen for the sampling, it does list some specific BEV models being offered in the particular segments.

The short of it is that according to TNB, running an EV is infinely cheaper, as it would cost users anywhere from 11.4% to 28.3% less each year to drive a BEV compared to an ICE vehicle using RON 95 fuel. The savings are amplified when ICE vehicles using RON 97 are benchmarked – savings of between 39.5% to 51% are quoted, and this is at the old RM3 per litre rate, so the percentages will be higher if the calculations are made with the current price.

The study isn’t definitive or the be-all and end-all of the topic, but it does provide a good indicator of how EVs shape up in terms of “fuel” consumption costs, in relation to ICE. Of course, the thing to note is that right now, the entry cost for a full electric vehicle remains on the high side, but all this will become pertinent down the road when sub-RM100k offerings become commonplace.

What’s your take on the TNB price comparison study? Share your thoughts on the matter with us in the comments section.

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