Why it’s difficult for ETCM to offer the Nissan Note e-Power in Malaysia
Eric · Nov 28, 2021 10:00 AM
A couple of weeks ago, Edaran Tan Chong Motors (ETCM) loaned the previous E12-generation Nissan Note e-Power for review. Keep in mind that the loaner is less about the Note, and it was more about its e-Power hybrid system. After all, one cannot say no to an overall fuel economy of just 2.8-litres/100km, right?
With such low fuel consumption figures, the Nissan Note e-Power comfortably undercuts the Honda City RS’ figures by a wide margin, so why isn’t Edaran Tan Chong Motors (ETCM) offering this fuel-sipping alternative in Malaysia?
Recall that Malaysia and Japan has a free trade agreement (FTA) that grants fully-imported cars zero import tax, but that's only half of the equation. The other half is the excise tax, which is not covered under the FTA and will push the final price of the car up by quite a fair bit.
The only way for ETCM to offer a CBU Nissan Note e-Power at an attractive price is if the government recognizes e-Power as an EV, thus allowing the excise tax to be waived.
Late last month when the government announced that they will be waiving import and excise tax for EVs, the exemption is only extended to battery electric vehicles (BEV); not plug-in hybrids (PHEV) or regular hybrids (HEV).
So if CBU is a no-go, can the Note e-Power be assembled (CKD) by ETCM?
Now that we've established that the CBU route can get expensive, the other possible method for the Nissan Note e-Power to be offered here is via local assembly (CKD).
Although ETCM operates an assembly facility in Serendah, assembling models like the Almera, X-Trail, and Serena, the E13-generation Nissan Note is currently only manufactured in Japan, at the Oppama plant in Kanagawa.
Now, should ETCM decide to assemble the Note e-Power here, Malaysia would then be the first country outside of Japan to assemble the Note, similar to the Nissan Serena.
This is a massive undertaking and it would mean that ETCM would need lots of investment to CKD the e-Power system in Malaysia, which is more complex than Serena S-Hybrid. Furthermore, ETCM is independent from Nissan.
It's a very different arrangement compared to the likes of Honda or Toyota in Malaysia, in which the parent companies of both Honda and Toyota have stakes in their local operations, making investments a more straightforward process.
Honda is first in Malaysia to localize hybrid battery pack assembly, while Toyota is gearing up to assemble the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid at its Bukit Raja plant.
In Japan, the Nissan Note e-Power is priced from JPY 2,029,500 (~RM 74k), 2.5 percent higher than similarly-equipped hybrid rivals like the Toyota Aqua (also called the Prius C, from JPY 1,980,000 or ~RM 73k) and 1.5% more than Honda Jazz Hybrid (sold in Japan as the Fit Hybrid, from JPY 1,997,600 or ~RM 73k).
What's the hype about the e-Power system?
Without getting into the nitty gritty details, e-Power serves as a intermediate solution between a regular internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric vehicle (EV).
The best part of Nissan’s e-Power is you get all the benefits of an EV – quiet operation, immediate torque, and smooth cruising – without any range anxiety associated with charger availability and wait times.
Now, because this isn't an EV per say, there's no need to plug the Note e-Power in to charge, like you would with the fully-electric Nissan Leaf; instead, you just refuel the car like any ICE car.
At the heart of e-Power is a naturally-aspirated 1.2-litre petrol engine that's hooked up to generator that sends power to the battery. And no, the engine does not drive the wheels at all. Driving the front wheels is the duty of the main traction motor, which produces 109 PS and 254 Nm.
And because the engine only serves as an on-board generator, fuel consumption is unrivalled, hence the 2.8-litre/100 km figure right at the start.