EV users lament ‘charging deserts’

PETALING JAYA: There must be an even distribution of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across the country to ensure the functionality and adoption of these environmentally-friendly vehicles, say owners and industry players.

Malay Vehicle Importers and Traders Association of Malaysia vice-president Raja Petra Marudin Raja Nordin said the lack of charging stations in rural areas could affect EV availability and adoption, even among more users in city “While places like Klang Valley have hundreds of charging stations available in their cities, places like Kota Baru only have two charging stations.

“Since the hometowns of many urban Malaysians are in the eastern and northern states, the lack of charging stations en route makes it difficult for EV owners to travel to these states.

“This causes anxiety among current and potential EV owners who risk being stranded if they don’t plan their trip home efficiently based on battery capacity,” he said.

Raja Petra Marudin said EV charging stations should also be placed near major points of interest for the convenience of drivers.

“The time to charge to full capacity can take around 30 minutes on average at most conventional charging point operators (CPOs), so it is unreasonable to expect drivers to just sit in their cars around the clock. Placing these charging stations in public places near malls or shopping areas will allow drivers to pass the time,” he added.

Malaysian EV Owners Club president Datuk Shahrol Halmi agreed, noting that charging stalls are also lacking in the stations that have been built.

“Currently, there are only 22 50kW or higher DC fast charger locations along highways and most of them are single-stall, which means only one EV can charge at a time. This has led to regular long queues at some locations such as Gentari’s popular 60kW charger in Ipoh.

“With more EVs on the road, especially during peak travel periods, high-power chargers should be deployed on major travel routes with 90kW as the minimum charging speed.

“Ideally, every highway charging location should also have five or more stalls with dynamic power allocation capabilities so that EVs can charge quickly to reduce congestion,” he said.

Shahrol also said that the current distribution of charging stations across the country is very uneven, making some interstate travel routes unusable for EVs.

“Some routes are known as ‘charging deserts’ due to the lack of nearby EV charging stations, such as the east coast, forcing EV drivers to use alternate routes or take unintended detours to find charging station,” he said.

He added that direct subsidies should be given to CPOs, which would help grow the industry and increase the adoption of EVs.

“At this early stage of EVs, the uptake of chargers is low, meaning most CPOs are losing money for every new charging station they set up. CPOs need financial help to ensure they can continue to expand the overall charger network and keep those out there in good order, instill public confidence in EVs and increase adoption, ” he said.

EV enthusiast and owner Farhan Abdul Rahim, 45, said chargers need to be allowed in all high-rise buildings or residential areas because of the idiosyncratic activities of EV owners.

“Unlike car owners who refuel when their gas tanks are empty, EV owners typically recharge their vehicles whenever they park, especially when at home.

“There is concern in the EV community that those living in condos may rely entirely on outside EV charging ports to power their vehicles, causing unnecessary congestion at charging stations,” he said.

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