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'Watts' in the Drive?: Steering Green with Electric Vehicles

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30 Nov 2023

4 Min Read

Nellie Chan (Editor)


Discover the engineering marvels of electric vehicles and their environmental impacts. Let's drive down the green road to our destination — sustainability!

In the busy symphony of Malaysian streets, where the thunderous roar of traditional combustion engines can be deafening, a silent yet revolutionary hum is quietly making itself heard. Electric vehicles (EVs), driven more notably by the popularity of Tesla, are not just changing how we get around; they signify a significant stride towards a sustainable future. This unexpected surge was fuelled by a growing global awareness of climate change, shifting gears away from conventional transportation methods that are no longer green.

Engineering Marvels: Discovering Electric Vehicles

Now, let's peek under the bonnet of these marvellous machines! Electric vehicles are not just about sleek exteriors; their intricate interiors are a synergy of engineering disciplines collaborating to create a more sustainable driving experience.

  • Electrical Engineering: Electric vehicles navigate the intersection of advanced electrical engineering. Electrical engineers are responsible for the rechargeable batteries within them, designing systems for optimal energy storage and developing innovative charging solutions.
  • Automotive Engineering: Despite the electrifying advancements in these vehicles, traditional automotive engineering principles persist. Automotive engineers focus on optimising components, such as aerodynamics, chassis design, and vehicle dynamics, to enhance overall performance.
Automotive engineer programming an electric vehicle
  • Control Systems Engineering: The intelligence integrated into electric vehicles is instrumental in managing energy consumption, optimising acceleration and deceleration, and utilising regenerative braking systems. Control systems engineers create algorithms to seamlessly coordinate these processes.
  • Materials Science and Engineering: Efficiency in electric vehicles demands materials that are both lightweight and robust. Materials scientists play a pivotal role in realising this dual goal, engineering materials that personify eco-friendliness and satisfy modern safety standards.
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Driving Change: Evaluating the Environmental Impact

The move to electric vehicles is often viewed as a substantial step towards sustainability. Yet, to explore the full extent of their environmental impact and test their testament of being green, a closer look at their entire life cycle is needed for a nuanced understanding.

  • Material Extraction:

The production of electric vehicles involves mining and refining raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel for batteries, as well as metals and plastics for other components. These extraction processes produce considerable environmental impacts and implications, contributing to the ecological footprint.

  • Battery Manufacturing and Recycling:

While electric vehicle batteries are essential for zero-emission operation, their manufacturing encompasses energy-intensive processes. There are also concerns regarding the recycling (and disposal) of batteries at the end of their life cycle, raising questions about potential environmental hazards.

  • Energy Source for Manufacturing:

The energy used in manufacturing electric vehicles can significantly impact their overall environmental sustainability. If the manufacturing process utilises non-renewable energy sources, it may counteract the emissions reductions achieved during operation.

  • Electricity Generation for Charging:

The sustainability of electric vehicles is not solely determined by their emissions but also by the environmental impact of the electricity generation for charging. If the electricity is generated from fossil fuels, its ecological footprint leaves a mark on broader energy production and consumption patterns.

Burning of fossil fuels
  • Transition to Cleaner Energy Sources:

In countries like Malaysia, where fossil fuels dominate the energy mix, the success of electric vehicles in reducing emissions relies on the transition to cleaner energy sources. This transition is necessary for accessing the full environmental benefits of electric vehicles.

Electrifying Malaysia: Challenges and Opportunities

As Malaysia welcomes electric vehicles, it should also be well-prepared for the challenges and opportunities that come with them. Affordability remains a primary concern for many Malaysians. While the initial investment may be heavier, the long-term economic benefits, such as reduced maintenance fees and fuel expenses, can outweigh the upfront costs. Government initiatives, including tax incentives and subsidies, are vital for making electric vehicles financially viable.


The development of an extensive charging infrastructure to support electric vehicles is also important. Collaborations between the government, private sector, and local communities lay the foundation for building a national network of charging stations, encouraging Malaysians to wholeheartedly embrace the electric revolution.

Electric vehicles at charging stations

Alongside the technological advancements and policy measures shaping the electric vehicle landscape, consumer awareness and education are equally crucial. Promoting accurate information about electric vehicles dispels misconceptions and helps informed decision-making. Educational programmes that teach the environmental benefits and cost-efficiency of electric vehicles can contribute to a more positive consumer perception.


More than a mere trend, the rise of electric vehicles in Malaysia signifies its shift, with the world, towards sustainable transportation and the transformative power of engineering. While their green credentials depend on several factors, their environmental benefits are set to escalate as Malaysia adapts to a more sustainable energy mix and adopts cleaner production practices. Therefore, electric vehicles, with their silent hums but resounding zero-emission promises, embody not just a mode of transportation but a collective commitment to engineering a greener, more sustainable tomorrow. 

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