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January 21, 2014

Green group: Make EEVs affordable for more Malaysians

PETALING JAYA: While environmental groups commended the move to make Malaysia an attractive production hub for energy efficient vehicles (EEVs), they were doubtful whether it would help the green movement in the long run.

Environmental Management & Research Association of Malaysia (Ensearch) president Abdul Aziz Long said the move, under the latest National Automotive Policy (NAP), would lead to lower fuel consumption and exhaust emissions in vehicles.

“However, it is important for the Government to ensure that EEVs are made affordable for more Malaysians, especially those vehicles below 1,800cc,” he said.

Abdul Aziz also predicted a steady increase in the number of registered vehicles annually, resulting in more cars on the road, contributing to pollution in the long run.

He stressed on the need to strike a balance.

“For instance, reducing the tax imposed on cars and reducing bank loan rates will make cars more affordable, but it contradicts government initiatives to promote use of public transport,” Abdul Aziz explained.

Environmental Protection Society Malaysia president Nithi Nesadurai said the Government’s move to lower car prices by 20% to 30% in the next five years was sure to “spell disaster for the environment”.

“While making hybrid cars a tad more affordable is an improvement, one must remember that a car is still a car, and it can still pollute the environment.”

The revised NAP will see an exemption on import tax and excise duties only on hybrid and EVs that are assembled locally – up to Dec 31, 2015 for hybrids and Dec 31, 2017 for EVs.

Meanwhile, Fomca secretary general Datuk Paul Selvaraj said there appeared to be minimal impact of the revised policy towards consumers, as the excise duty and import tax for foreign cars remained in place.

However, Selvaraj welcomed the extension of exemption for these taxes on hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) assembled locally.

Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) president S.M Mohamed Idris said the move to get more people to buy eco-friendly cars would be feasible only in the short term, as hybrid cars do not mean there is completely no pollution.

Mohamed Idris also lamented the absence of a mention on the end-of-life policy for automobiles, suggesting a cap of 30 years on vehicles to start with, “as it is definitely uneconomical and unsafe to use a vehicle beyond that limit.”

- The Star