Published on August 17th, 2018 | by Subhash Nair


Should the Govt Take Away Plug-In Hybrid Incentives?

We’ve long argued that Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) have only benefitted the rich. Yes, most of these cars cost as much as a house, but compared to regular petrol powered cars that you and I might consider buying, a much smaller percentage of the PHEV price tags consist of taxes.

And since only the rich and successful corporations can afford to buy these, the current policy makes it look like the poorer you are, the more taxes are imposed on your purchase. Some justify the policy by arguing that it

a) reduces emissions

b) supports an influx of foreign technology

but we would argue that

a) it seems to find to only be for cars that do 0-100km/h in 6 seconds or less

b) none of the powertrain components are made here. At the best, they’re just assembled here. And since all the assembly technology is propreitary and needs to be licensed out or reserve engineered, technology transfer is unlikely to happen.

But more than that, cars in Malaysia are a necessity to anyone looking to make a decent living. In some countries, all cars are considered luxury goods. But in Malaysia that wouldn’t be fair, some cars fall into the ‘necessary-level’, others are slightly fancy, and others still are all out luxury goods. Every PHEV in Malaysia is a luxury good. No doubt about it.

So, even though we’ve got our pitchforks out, we also understand it’s not quite as straightforward as reversing the policy. Yes, the premium car companies are making money, from the increase in sales (due to the lower prices that incentives bring) but they’ve also built facilties. And more importantly, they’ve invested in their brand’s shift towards electric power.

Mercedes-Benz has its #SwitchtoEQ campaign. ALL of Volvo Car’s locally-made 60- and 90-Series cars are plug-in hybrids. And BMW too have some models that focus primarily on PHEV technology. If the government reverses its policy overnight it might make Malaysia look like a difficult place to do business. So, it’s probably best if a middle ground policy is taken.

Shift the tax burden back on the rich while giving some other kinds of incentives for buying hybrid or maybe just PURE ELECTRIC cars. At least with pure electric cars, there’s vehicles like the upcoming Nissan LEAF that average Joes can afford.

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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