"For us, hydrogen is a very new green fuel. For us in Malaysia, the infrastructure and the players have not emerged yet, so of course we welcome support from the government and their interest, but it only makes sense if there are other players who are ramping up as well.
So we are monitoring this closely, but it's still very early stages," said Sashi Ambi, who serves as BMW Malaysia's Director of Sustainability, besides heading the communications department.
Hans de Visser, BMW Malaysia's Managing Director, is also equally in support of the clean fuel. "We're also grateful that Malaysia is starting to produce hydrogen on a big scale.
This technology will be further developed by BMW, in particular for long-distance driving and fast filling up, I think it's the way to go," he said.
The development that de Visser points towards refers to BMW Group's endeavour in other parts of the world. Breaking away from most competitors' narrow focus in EVs, BMW in Europe is studying a multi-way approach, fervently developing hydrogen technology as well.
Their recent efforts culminated in the small-scale production of the BMW iX5 hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle (FCEV), itself a joint effort between them and Toyota.
As ironic as it sounds, the alternative needs an alternative, otherwise we're left with a myopic view of things. So what's BMW Malaysia's take on synthetic fuels (e-fuels)?
"We actually have our thoughts on e-fuels. I personally would not knock it, because ultimately, we're all working in innovation and we're all working in a way to make our processes more responsible.
So if e-fuels is the first step in that direction, then so be it," explains Sashi, though he maintains that BMW is "two-three steps further" in electromobility and hydrogen compared to synthetic fuels.
It's a fair assessment, given that the global leader in e-fuels today are Porsche. Stuttgart is investing heavily in this technology in a bid to keep their internal combustion engines (ICE) alive alongside their all-electric Taycan lineup.
Porsche, alongside with other partners, have collaborated with Highly Innovative Fuels (HIF) to open a sprawling integrated hydrogen facility in Chile that's dedicated to the study and production of renewable fuels.
Nonetheless, BMW Malaysia's statements signal that the company are keen to try different approaches to face the challenges posed in the quest for carbon neutrality.
In fact, it's a win-win; diversification in green propulsion means more choices for the consumer, and the current recipe of cars can be maintained for longer.
As it stands today, BMW Group Malaysia is the leader in battery electric vehicles (BEVs), with over 1,000 units of the iX delivered in 2022. Meanwhile, the MINI SE EV contributed 25% of sales in the brand's best-ever sales record last year – meaning 1 in every 4 MINIs sold were electric.
On a related matter, BMW Malaysia has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Pentas Flora, a collaborative effort that will see the latter repurposing used oil and lubricants collected from BMW dealers nationwide in one more step towards sustainability.
With humble beginnings collecting diecast models and spending hours virtually tuning dream cars on the computer, his love of cars has delightfully transformed into a career. Sanjay enjoys how the same passion for cars transcends boundaries and brings people together.