Cars clean mobility

Published on March 20th, 2022 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Will New Electric Cars KILL Snob Appeal In Malaysia?

It looks like design, range, recharge time and features will be more important than snob appeal.

Malaysians, and also most ASEAN car buyers have been taken by badge branding and snob appeal for years. Simple. For as long as we can remember, driving a Mercedes-Benz in Malaysia stood for success. Till today, the humble Mercedes W124 E-Class which can be bought for as little as RM6,000 or so in running condition, with shiny paint and alloy wheels is high on the ‘must have’ before ‘I die’ list with many older Malaysian drivers.

BHP_Euro5 Diesel_2021_Lexus NX

If you are doing business, arriving in a Mercedes-Benz makes an impression that your business is doing well (even if you happened to borrow from your parents and your 2-year old business is being funded month after month by mummies purse).

Mercedes W124_snob appeal

Now, over the past decade, this ‘snob appeal’ has moved to BMW and even Audi. It has been good for the premium car industry and has ‘pushed’ a lot of young people involved in the insurance business, multi-level marketing line, direct selling business and even home shopping to invest in one of these car brands to get their business rolling along.

They take selfies and tik tok videos with these cars to show their great life which in turn ‘motivates’ other young budding business people to do the same and the cycle continues.

Meanwhile, premium car sales continue to surge despite Covid-19 woes and with easy financing made available and good ‘parental’ financial backing. Will it continue?

We think not and here is why. It’s called the electric car. Yes, there is a sudden surge in consumer interest with electric cars (like fancy smartphones) and with the ‘tax free’ incentives given by the government and the expansion of charging stations it makes sense for some car buyers.

However, there is something else. Let us explain. Until a year ago, Hyundai cars in Malaysia were not popular with many, despite their good build quality, well appointed cabins and sensible selling prices. The ‘snob appeal’ for a Hyundai was somewhat lower than a Japanese equivalent. Sad, but true!

Then came the electric car revolution and Hyundai’s move to launch their IONIQ brand. With the hype surrounding the all new IONIQ5 CUV, Malaysians who previously never wanted to be seen in any Hyundai, want to own one now.

electric vehicle snob appeal

The IONIQ5 is selling better than expected and despite its price from RM199k to RM259k it seems that most buyers want an IONIQ 5 Max for RM259,888. This is rather strange when you consider the fact that the Mercedes EQA full electric car is priced at RM278,201 which is just RM19k more expensive. Yes, the Hyundai EV is only a little cheaper and yet it is selling fast.

XC40 Recharge Twin, snob appeal

Meanwhile, from the ‘left field’ we have Volvo with their latest XC40 full electric SUV which was launched just a few days after the Mercedes EQA. No official price yet, but we are guessing a selling price of RM258,000 or so which puts it right in the middle of the IONIQ5 and EQA.

Mercedes EQA Snob Appeal

Then if we are to wait patiently, there is news that KIA Motors will be launching the EV6 electric car this year and with possible selling price from RM188k to RM148k, it looks like the former less popular Korean car brands might just turn out to be popular with the next generation of buyers despite having a selling price that is higher than a Nissan Leaf and Mini EV.

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