Daihatsu e-Smart is a a one-motor series-hybrid, similar to Nissan e-Power, operates almost like an EV
Earmarks highest ever investment in recent history, over RM 1.3 billion
Electrification, which include not just hybrids (HEVs) but also electric vehicles (EVs) along with digitization of customer touch points, are among the additional focus for Perodua’s 2022 business plan.
At this morning’s press conference on the company’s outlook for 2022, President and CEO Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad confirmed that development work is already underway for electrified Perodua models, and that a big (but undisclosed sum) have been allocated specific for electrification projects.
“This (the investment) is for feasibility studies that needs to be done, all the basic scenarios and assumptions that we need to do, market surveys, and all that. The investment for electrification is huge,” said Dato’ Zainal.
“Unlike other manufacturers, we cannot just introduce electric cars because of technology or the environment. For Perodua, we have to add one more item, which is affordability. How do we make electrification affordable to Malaysians? This is what the investment is for,” he added.
Perodua will be investing RM 1.33 billion this year - its highest ever in recent history. Of the total, RM 529.1 million will be for the introduction of new models (including the 2022 Perodua Alza).
The remaining RM 797.5 million will be spread out across upgrades for its test facilities, manufacturing plant, R&D centre, and digitization – all of it will also lay the foundation to support the development of hybrids and EVs.
For example, Perodua’s test track has now been upgraded to include additional tools and equipment, as well as expertise to support evaluation of Internet connectivity services and electrified vehicles.
Perodua’s R&D Centre will now include a Living Lab IR4.0 facility that will cut development time of new models by half.
Hybrid or EV, if it’s a Perodua it must be affordably priced
Electric vehicles is definitely part of the longer-term plan but for Perodua, affordability is of utmost importance, so a lower cost hybrid is its immediate focus.
Perodua didn’t mention any detail about its upcoming hybrid model but looking at development of its technical partner Daihatsu’s activities in Japan and Indonesia, it’s obvious that they are referring to the Perodua Ativa e-Smart Hybrid.
Indonesia is expected to launch the Daihatsu Rocky e-Smart Hybrid later this year, so it’s quite reasonable to expect the Daihatsu Rocky’s Malaysian twin, the Perodua Ativa, to add a new hybrid variant in 2023.
Currently, the Perodua Ativa is priced from RM 61,500 to RM 72,000.
Daihatsu’s e-Smart Hybrid is very different from its parent company’s Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive used in models like the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid (from RM 136,550), but both are full-hybrids (as opposed to mild-hybrids).
The former allows for smoother stop-go traffic driving because it can accelerate from stand-still traffic in electric power alone, while the latter uses a small electric motor only to assist the engine (examples include Honda’s previous IMA, Mercedes-Benz EQ Boost).
The Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is a full-hybrid that uses a more expensive two-motor series-parallel setup.
The first is a small motor-generator (MG1) connected to the engine, working as a starter motor to fire up the combustion engine as well as a generator to recharge the high voltage battery. The larger, second MG2 motor is connected to the wheels. This is the main drive motor, which is also used for regenerative braking, a function that recovers energy during braking / coasting, to recharge the high voltage (HV) battery.
By using a power-split device (PSD), the engine can also directly drive the wheels, aided by MG2 motor.
Perodua / Daihatsu’s e-Smart Hybrid is a lot simpler. It’s still a full-hybrid but uses a one motor series-hybrid setup, thus keeping cost low.
In the Rocky / Ativa Hybrid, the engine is not directly connected to the wheels. Instead, a small 1.2-litre naturally aspirated engine is used only as a generator to recharge the high voltage battery, and it’s programmed to operate only at one of two (or maybe three, details uncertain) engine speeds – to keep the engine running at its most fuel efficient rev range.
Most of the time, the car operates like an electric vehicle. You can think e-Smart Hybrid as an electric vehicle that fires up its own generator when the drive battery’s state of charge is low.
However, don’t confuse this with a range extended electric vehicle (REEV), because the Daihatsu / Perodua don’t / won’t have plugged-in charging capability, so it’s still strictly defined as a hybrid.
The next closest alternative to Perodua / Daihatsu’s e-Smart Hybrid is Nissan’s e-Power.