Malaysians love their cars. About 62% of car owners in the country see their automobiles as a “status symbol”. But that comes on the back of being third highest in the world on car ownership.
A Nielsen Global Survey of Automotive Demand found that Malaysia has 93% car ownership, placing third in the world. The country also has the highest incidence of multiple car ownership in the world, with 54% of households having more than one car.
For the Malaysian government, part of the answer to congestion and the high carbon footprint due to emissions is in the National Automotive Policy. It’s the roadmap for the country’s auto industry, which includes increasing the quality of products and focusing on energy efficient vehicles (EEV).
In fact, it is looking at turning Malaysian into an EEV and component production hub for Southeast Asia. The move is a smart one as driving a “green” car confers benefits and also debunks the idea that such lifestyle is only reserved for the rich and famous.
Here’s why you need to hop into a plug-in hybrid car and why doing so won’t blow a hole in your pocket:
Fuel savings on the fly
The obvious sales pitch for plug-in hybrids is it saves money on fuel by operating on both electricity and gasoline and by saving energy typically wasted by conventional petrol-powered cars. It is powered by an engine as well as an electric motor but with a higher-capacity battery to store electricity.
The car charges on the go and it saves fuel by using a start-stop mechanism that saves every drop of petrol by turning off the engine when it would otherwise be idling.
Also, in Malaysia, drivers do not need to worry about charging ports as there are 270 ChargeNow charging stations available 24/7.
But the biggest advantage of a plug-in hybrid is that – as it name suggests – you can plug it in to re-charge the battery. It’s much cheaper to run your vehicle on electricity from your outlet than relying solely on petrol. Based on typical average rates, operating a plug-in hybrid costs less than half the price of a petrol-powered car or even a conventional hybrid.
There are two types of hybrid cars. The differences are huge but one that is easy to notice is, that a conventional hybrid car can only travel short distances in pure-electric mode. Plug-ins on the other hand can travel extended distances with little to no assistance from the gasoline engine.
Better tailored maintenance packages
Also, some brands provide tailored maintenance packages for their drivers. For example, MINI provides its PHEV drivers six years battery warranty and a four-year unlimited mileage warranty as well as free scheduled service. What’s more, owners will receive a home charging cable and a public charging cable for free.
(PHEV is the acronym for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.)
These help drivers to shoulder the cost of financing their PHEV as most of them only consider the maintenance cost of a car when they are shopping for a used auto. According to the Asean NCAP survey, only 2% of Malaysian car buyers chose maintenance cost and service as the main factor that influenced their car purchasing decisions.
Also, remember to never be penny wise, pound foolish. You may be able to save a few hundred bucks skipping a service, but that could lead to a break down that can potentially cost you thousands of ringgit.
Regular maintenance is like a preventive measure and it is the single best thing you can do as a car owner to keep your car happy and save money on repairs in the future. Besides, following the maintenance schedule, you’ll need to allocate money, as evident from what’s being stated above. A plug-in hybrid takes away those worries by keeping those costs low.
Never forget: great post-sales service
It goes without saying that there’s more to a new car than just purchasing a new car. Future maintenance costs and parts availability have to be factored in, even when you are driving a plug-in hybrid.
Now, you might be able to afford the monthly repayment but if there’s a break down, and your car is one of those exotic types, then you’ll be served with a hefty price tag, even for parts that might not correspond with the numbers on your future credit card bill.
Worse, opt for a generic part and it leads to bigger problems. So, to avoid any problems in the future, always choose original parts. Or choose a car where the parts are easily available. Because your car can’t function if it is lacking the essentials.
But whatever it is, remember that going green is also about being financially savvy
The rules never change even with a plug-in hybrid car. The key to get the best value for your money when buying a plug-in is to know how to manage your cost of ownership.
Remember to check your finances as well as the terms and conditions of the hire purchase loan you’ll commit too. Where possible, pay higher down payment, take the lowest loan tenure and get a loan with a low interest rate.
You might want to factor in depreciation but larger than that is resale value. Some car companies invest in providing customers that service from the day they drive out with their new automobile to the day they return their aged vehicle to sell it off.
The key here is to keep your car in mint condition and to buy for the long term, because depreciation rates always hit hard in the initial years of ownership.
One brand that offers you all the above is MINI. With the MINI Countryman Plug-in Hybrid, you get all the perks of a hybrid car and more, such as excise duty reduction with a government-approved hybrid incentive, meaning the overall purchasing price of a car is relatively competitive with a regular petrol-powered one.
What’s more, you get all the fittings and trimmings of a modern MINI: a powerful engine, a spacious interior, and an all-wheel drive for any terrain.
And as for financing…
MINI owners wanting some flexible financing options can opt for the Full Circle Programme. Here’s how it works:
What’s unique is after three years of ownership, drivers are offered four options:
- Return the keys with no further obligations.
- Trade in/sell your MINI to any MINI authorised dealership and select your next MINI.
- Make a full settlement of your contract and keep the car.
- Extend your contract term a little longer.
Assuming that you are going to go for option one and two, by owning the MINI for just the first three years, you don’t have to deal with expensive repairs and maintenance later on, as the car ages.
All MINI cars under the Full Circle programme come with a future guaranteed value. This means regardless of the market price, MINI guarantees the value of your car.
And there’s more: Owners of the MINI Countryman Plug-In Hybrid get to charge their cars at any ChargeNow stations. Best of all, they get a free first-year subscription to ChargeNow.