Brunei holds great potential for electric vehicles

|     James Kon     |

AS AN oil producing country, Brunei Darussalam also has the potential to become a nation where the majority of its people are driving electric vehicles (EV). However, for this reality to materialise, it is crucial to have support from the government and proper EV infrastructure in place.

This point was highlighted by Vincent Wijnen, Head of Marketing and Sales for Asia and Oceania, Nissan Motors Asia-Pacific, in an interview during the Nissan Futures symposium in Singapore recently.

The Nissan official cited Norway as a good example of electric vehicle introduction by an oil-producing nation.

“One of the biggest oil producers in the world is Norway, and the country has decided to make the step towards clean energy; more than 50 per cent of cars sold in the country are EVs. More than 30 per cent of the existing car parks in the country today are EV-enabled,” he said.

“Norway has consciously made the decision not to burn their own oil and use the funds they have made to invest in clean energy. This is a very good example of investing in technologies beneficial for the people.”

Commenting on Nissan’s forthcoming plans for its Nissan Leaf EV, he said, “We have announced seven markets that we will be introducing the car into. This is because we need to make sure that we go through the right cycle of introducing the car. We need to make sure the right things are in place.”

Vincent Wijnen, Head of Marketing and Sales for Asia and Oceania, Nissan Motors Asia-Pacific
Nicolas Thomas, Director of Nissan’s Global EV Unit. – PHOTOS: JAMES KON
The Nissan Leaf

The new Nissan Leaf is 100 per cent electric and features a suite of advanced technologies showcasing Nissan ingenuity. It will go on sale in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand during the coming fiscal year.

Vincent Wijnen said, “For Brunei Darussalam, I think there is opportunity in the country to introduce EV but we have to get everything right.

“The new Nissan Leaf is not just an EV; we have packaged all the technology that we have today into one car. When we launch this vehicle, we want some key features in the car to show what we can do as a manufacturer. It’s very important for us that this is a car that serves as an example of what we are capable of.

“For a market like Brunei, we have to make sure that a proper process is followed. There is no reason that we cannot bring the Nissan Leaf or other EVs into Brunei.”

To be successful in embedding EVs within society and proliferating its usage, Vincent Wijnen highlighted that “it is important to have cooperation between the manufacturer and the government as well as other stakeholders”.

“EVs are not like conventional vehicles where you can just launch and sell them. Successful introduction of these vehicles requires cooperation in terms of building the required infrastructure and some level of support in taxation or duties, as well as other support for customers,” he said.

Adding his voice to the growing notion that EVs will take over conventional vehicles in the future, Nicolas Thomas, Director of Nissan’s Global EV Unit, said, “In the future, I am sure that EVs will replace conventional vehicles. I don’t know when it will happen, and the extent of use of the vehicles will vary from market to market. We have seen rapid transitions to EV usage in countries such as Norway and China, and in California in the US.”

In the Asean market where the average prices of vehicles are lower, Nicolas Thomas said, “The transition into widespread EV acceptance will take a longer time but it will certainly happen one day in the future. Nissan will be introducing 12 EVs for sale by 2022. This wide range of vehicles is meant to meet the needs of our customers.”

Regarding the safety of EVs, he said, “We have sold 350,000 EVs and customers have driven a total of 3.9 billion kilometres, and there has yet to be any critical incident with our batteries. No one has been electrocuted and none of our vehicles have burst into flames in serious accidents. Our batteries are really safe and have gone through stringent testing.”