Automotive, Feature, Test Drive

EV Road Trip From KL to Kuantan (And Back) With ZEVA – Range Anxiety?

Last week, Nextrift was invited to an EV road trip organised by the Zero Emission Vehicle Association (ZEVA). The trip covers over 800km of drive between Bangsar, Pahang, Terengganu, Kuantan, and back to Bangsar over the course of two days with several stops at several charging stations.

ZEVA also prepared a number of EVs for the road trip, and I managed to drive three different cars throughout the two-day drive: the Hyundai Ioniq 6, Hyundai Ioniq 5, as well as the BYD Atto 3. For the most part, I definitely enjoyed going on a long distance drive with these EVs, though range anxiety remains the biggest pain point of electric cars in Malaysia, though some EVs fare better than others.

On the first day of the trip, my colleague and I drove the Hyundai Ioniq 6 from Bangsar – more specifically, TNB Platinum – to the Bentong R&R for a quick break before heading to the Gambang R&R (Eastbound) to check out the Gentari charging station. This particular station has two DC charging points rated at 90kW, and some EVs in our convoy charged up a bit here.

We traveled for about 191km to reach the Gambang R&R, and the Ioniq 6 still had an impressive 65% battery left. The particular model we drove is the Max RWD variant with a generous 77.4kWh battery that promises up to 614km of range based on the WLTP cycle. While we weren’t driving particularly efficiently, our energy consumption is still a respectable 14.9kWh/100km.

Anyway, we then proceeded to the Paka R&R bound for Kuala Terengganu, which is a 144km journey. Unfortunately, our drive had some torrential rain, which affected the range of the Ioniq 6. But fortunately, we still made it to the Paka R&R with about 33% battery left and 15.6kWh/100km efficiency. Evidently, the Ioniq 6 is a very energy efficient car, and it is by far my favourite EV for the road trip.

Not just purely for its long range, of course, as the Ioniq 6 is a joy to drive. Not only is its NVH incredibly refined with minimal road and wind noise at the national speed limit, its ADAS feels very competent too. With adaptive cruise control enabled, the electric sedan can provide a comfortable, relaxing drive, even on a long road trip like this.

It’s no wonder the Ioniq 6 won the 2023 World Car of the Year award.

At the Paka R&R, we had our lunch here while waiting for some of the EVs to be charged at the TNB Electron charging station with two 90kW DC charging points. We were also told that TNB will be deploying another Electron station at the Westbound Paka R&R sometime in the second quarter of 2024.

Once we were done with lunch, we changed to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 to continue our journey to Paka Waterfront to snap some scenic pictures with the cars. We stopped here for a short while before heading to a ChargEV charging station in Indera Mahkota, Kuantan. This particular station has two 60kW DC charging points, which is conveniently located in front of a mall and several cafes.

Not surprisingly, the Ioniq 5 we drove – which is the range-topping Max model with up to 430km of WLTP range – still had over 50% battery left by the time we ended our day one drive at Hyatt Regency Kuantan. That’s not bad at all for an electric SUV as big as the Ioniq 5, as we took some detours here and there for about 200km of distance covered in total.

For the second day of drive, it’s a straight journey from Hyatt Regency Kuantan to TNB Platinum in Bangsar. This time around, we are in the BYD Atto 3, and this is where things got…well, interesting, to say the least.

For context, the Atto 3 we got for this drive is the Standard Range model, which has a 49.92kWh battery that offers up to 410km of range…on the NEDC cycle, which is typically less accurate than the WLTP standard. If we go by the WLTP cycle instead, the Standard Range Atto 3 has a quoted range of up to 345km.

Still, this range should be good enough for the 263km journey back to Bangsar right? Well, sort of. By the time we arrived at the Genting Sempah R&R, we were left with only 13% battery after traveling 206km. We drove quite sedately too, as our efficiency sits at 15.8kWh/100km.

While it’s entirely possible we can still make it to Bangsar with 13% battery left in the Atto 3, we didn’t want to push our luck or reduce the lifespan of the battery by doing so. We then decided to charge up with the Gentari charger at the Petronas station, which can do 24kW DC charging.

Yes, that’s not a particularly fast DC charger, but it’s good enough for us to enjoy our lunch and charge up the Atto 3 enough for the journey back to Bangsar. After about 50 minutes of charging, we got the battery to 43% and resumed our (much less anxious) drive to TNB Platinum.

And that’s our EV road trip with ZEVA. Overall, it was a pleasant experience, even if we had some range anxiety with the Atto 3. Of course, with some proper planning and knowing how many EV chargers are available along our route, it’s definitely viable to make long distance trips with an EV.

However, this situation can rapidly change as more EVs make it to Malaysian roads. At the moment, there are over 12,000 EVs registered in Malaysia since 2011, and 9,000 of them were registered just this year. Given that most DC charging stations we visited in this trip only offer two charging points, there may not be enough available chargers as EV adoption picks up locally.

Nonetheless, I’m still optimistic that more and more EV charging stations will be deployed throughout Malaysia by the likes of Gentari, ChargEV, and TNB to meet the growing demand for EV charging. For me personally, I’m still looking forward to getting an EV for my next car, even if I’m not quite ready to make the switch just yet.

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