Earlier this year, Proton’s distribution arm, Proton Edar, signed a memorandum of agreement with Smart Automobile Company (Smart). This will make Proton the official importer, distributor, and dealer of Smart vehicles in Malaysia and Thailand.
The news is timely, with the Malaysian government announcing that the import taxes on EVs will be removed for a given time of two years.
But it can be said that Smart #1 still may not be too economical for an average M40 Malaysian to own. Smart #1 is expected to carry a European price tag of £35,000, which means a possible asking price of around RM200,000 in Malaysia with after-sales and warranty included.
So, we thought it’d be interesting to compare the price of a Smart #1 against cheaper EV alternatives you can buy in Malaysia. This non-exhaustive list mainly covers the EVs that are most similar to Smart #1 in the Malaysian market.
But first, here’s what Smart #1 can offer
Power and speed: With an electric engine rear-wheel-drive setup, Smart #1 provides up to 200kW of power, 343Nm of torque, and a maximum speed of 180km/h.
Range: Roughly 420km to 440km of range, which is about a one-way drive from KL to Langkawi.
Charging: Using a wall box with 22kW AC power, charging should get it from zero to 80% in three hours. The brand’s DC fast charger with 150kW output cuts the charging time down to just 30 minutes.
How low can you go?
The New MINI Cooper SE 3 Door at RM178,241
BMW Group Malaysia launched its fully-electric MINI Cooper SE series in 2020, with three and five-door variants. For the purpose of this article, the three-door model (Cooper SE 3 Door) will be compared.
Power and speed: Power for the Cooper SE 3 Door comes from a front-mounted electric motor producing 135kW and 270Nm of torque. In turn, the car goes from zero to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds with a top speed of 150 km/h.
Battery size: 28.9 kWh.
Range: 232km, enough for a one-way drive from KL to Taiping, Ipoh.
Charging: Charging the Cooper SE takes around two and a half hours using 11kW of AC power through a Type-2 cable. Alternatively, the car accepts DC fast-charging up to 50kW, which can charge the battery from 10% to 80% in 36 minutes.
Price: The Cooper SE 3 Door retails in 2022 at RM178,241 on the road (OTR) without insurance.
This figure takes into account the government’s Budget 2022 import and excise duties exemption, SST rebates that are valid until June 30 of this year, and a two-year, unlimited-mileage warranty.
Nissan LEAF at RM181,263
Nissan LEAF is known to be one of the more accessible EVs available in the Malaysian market.
Power and speed: With 148kW of power, it has instant acceleration from 320Nm torque. Nissan LEAFs can also go from zero to 100km/h in 7.9 seconds, and has a 144 km/h top speed.
Battery size: 40kWh.
Range: Up to 311km on a single charge, the Nissan LEAF’s range can comfortably get you from KL to Georgetown, Penang on a one-way trip.
Charging: Every LEAF comes with a 6.6kW AC wall box charger that will provide a full charge in seven hours, while a CHAdeMO port (a type of DC charging technology) allows the use of 50kW DC fast charging, topping up the battery in less than an hour.
Price: Listed at RM181,263 OTR on ZigWheels, it is inconclusive whether tax exemptions apply. However, there is a subscription programme where Malaysians can rent a pre-loved Nissan LEAF for RM2,300 a month through GoCar.
Hyundai Kona Electric e-LITE RM149,000
Hyundai Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) introduced its Kona Electric in Malaysia in November 2021. The all-electric SUV was made available in three variants, with the lowest of the bunch, the e-Lite, being the cheapest EV in the country.
Power and speed: The e-Lite features a 136 PS (about 100kW of power) and a 395Nm torque, which brings the car from zero to 100 km/h in 9.9 seconds, with a 155km/h top speed.
Battery size: 39.2kWh.
Range: 305km, which can also get you from KL to Georgetown, Penang on a one-way trip.
Charging: Regular AC charging with 7.2 kW will take around six and a half hours to get the battery from 10% to 80%. DC fast charging with a 50 kW charger takes 60 minutes.
Price: The RM149,000 price tag is inclusive of import, excise duty, and SST exemptions, following the Budget 2022 announcement on the adoption of EVs in Malaysia.
|Smart #1||MINI Cooper SE 3 Door||Nissan LEAF||Hyundai Kona Electric e-LITE|
|Power & speed||200kW power, 343Nm torque,180km/h top speed||135kW power, 270Nm torque, 150 km/h top speed||148kW power, 320Nm torque, 144 km/h top speed||100kW power, 395Nm torque, 155km/h top speed|
|Battery size||66kWh||28.9 kW||40kWh||39.2kWh|
|Charging||22kW AC, 150kW DC||11kW AC, 50kW DC||6.6kW AC, 50kW DC||7.2kW AC, 50kW DC|
Similar, but more expensive alternatives
For those with the spending power, there are similar alternatives to the Smart #1 at higher costs, compiled by Shahrol Halmi, a member of the FB group for EV enthusiasts and owners, MyEVOC.
He compiled this list based on the sizes of the EVs, and depending on each individual’s status, you might find a more suitable alternative among the other names.
|Smart #1||Hyundai Kona e-Max||Mercedes-Benz EQA||Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric P8|
|Power & speed||200kW power, 343Nm torque, 180km/h top speed||150kW power, 395Nm torque, 167km/h||140 kW power, 375Nm torque, 160km/h||300 kW power, 660Nm torque, 180km/h|
|Charging||22kW AC, 150kW DC||11kW AC, 77kW DC||11kW AC, 100kW DC||11kW AC, 150kW DC|
While Smart #1 will be the first EV to be sold by a homegrown automotive company, I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a Malaysian EV.
We have seen attempts from Malaysian companies building their own prototypes for electric, or even hybrid cars, such as NanoMalaysia and EV Innovations. Although, it seems like they never entered the commercial market.
Will this trend soon change? Possibly.
In February this year, the government approached Perodua about a possible EV project, according to Perodua’s president and CEO, Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad.
Zainal said, “The government is targeting that by 2030, 15% of the total industry volume will be EVs. We realise this, we’re making plans, and hopefully, we can make an announcement very soon. Within this year, we will make an announcement on our future EV roadmap plan”.
Malaysia has fallen behind in the global EV adoption race and its tax reliefs still aren’t enough to help the general public switch to more eco-friendly vehicles.
Perhaps the only way to do so is by actually releasing a lower-cost, locally made EV. After all, we already have players in the market building the parts for it.
Featured Image Credit: Smart Automobile Company