Published on June 28th, 2023 | by Subhash Nair0
Volvo Car Malaysia MD Charles Frump Shares His Electrification Vision
We sat down with Charles Frump, Managing Director of Volvo Car Malaysia and spoke about electrification for more than an hour.
When it comes to electrification, few brands are as committed to the cause as Volvo. Volvo Car Malaysia was the first to position plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) as the highest grade model you could get. That being said, we know the company has ambitious goals for electrification in Malaysia. We sat down with Charles Frump, Managing Director of Volvo Car Malaysia to get his view on the company’s progress on that front.
Frump looks at electrification in Malaysia through a lens of practical optimism. It’s all about delivering the right products to the right customers. For now, Volvo’s PHEVs are clearly the best fit for the largest number of people. There’s a wide range of products, from the compact XC40 to the limo-like S90 and even the family-friendly SUV and wagon options in between. Each of these is available as a PHEV and they can all serve as quasi-electric vehicles in their own way.
PHEVs As A Practical Stop Gap
The future of personal mobility is clearly electric. Volvo saw the writing on the wall early on and took the right steps by electrifying their entire line-up years ago. PHEVs are the first step for most customers on the road to embracing electrification and they just keep getting better as time goes on.
When the XC90 T8 Twin Engine first debuted in 2014, it had an electric driving range of 40km. Last year, the PHEV range was updated in Malaysia with long-range 18.8kWh batteries and this brought the electric drive range up across the board for 60 and 90 series cars. The current XC90 T8 can do 77km* of electric driving on a full charge while the S60 and V60 PHEV models are capable of 90km*. That’s especially incredible when you consider the fact that these improvements are coming within the same life cycle of the model.
With every successive update, Volvo PHEVs eliminate tailpipe emissions to a greater degree while still coming with powerful and efficient petrol-hybrid powertrains as a back-up and for longer commutes.
Volvo PHEVs enable fully electric daily drives (such as for daily commuting), fuel-efficient hybrid drives (such as for longer trips), and peace of mind with the backup of fully-petrol propulsion in unexpected situations. Today, thousands of Malaysian Volvo PHEV owners get to complete their daily commutes to work and back without burning a single drop of petrol.
As impressive as Volvo’s PHEVs are, we know the company is pivoting towards full electric. At the C40 launch last year, Charles Frump announced an ambitious target for the company – 75% of cars sold here would be pure electric by 2025.
So far, Frump says that the company is on track to hit this target. He was a little cautious about his wording here but it almost sounded as if the target could be achieved ahead of 2025…
Increasing The EV Customer Base
Two things that may accelerate Volvo EV adoption in Malaysia may be just around the corner. The first is the Volvo EX30 – a new small EV that’s coming to Malaysia in 2024. While he was mum on the price, our estimate puts the EX30 around the RM200,000 mark. Given Volvo Car Malaysia used to sell the V40 here for just RM180K, we don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility for the company to present the most affordable premium EV in the country with the EX30.
The second factor that may accelerate EV adoption is upcoming regulation changes to EV charging in condominium and apartment parking lots. Charles Frump believes that a Fast-Charging network isn’t quite as important as the availability of home charging to EV adoption.
Think about the sheer number of premium car owners in the Klang Valley who don’t live on landed property. Most don’t have the option to install AC home charging and that’s a major deterrent to buying an EV. Once home charging becomes available to all, Frump anticipates a big surge in demand for EVs.
Other Takeaways From Our Interview With Charles Frump
Volvo Car Malaysia’s MD confirmed that the EX30 would be arriving in Malaysia ahead of the EX90, despite the fact that the EX90 was globally revealed first.
Volvo Car Malaysia’s Online Sales Platform has been an incredible success. Dealers have been understanding about the necessary transition while customers have come to appreciate the transparency in terms of availability and pricing.
Waiting times have shortened across the board for Volvo Car Malaysia products as supply shortages have eased in 2023. That being said, their cars are still in very high demand, so there may be some models and colours that take longer than others to arrive.
*Range according to the realistic WLTP/EPA driving cycle under controlled conditions for a new car.
Real-world range may vary.