What Did I Learn Driving an EV 827km to the East Coast?


Earlier this week I had the opportunity to join the Malaysian EV Tour media convoy organized by the Zero Emission Vehicle Association (ZEVA). This association is a non-governmental organization that wants to popularize the use of electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions, from policy development to community acceptance and many more. This convoy, which was also successful with various partners, including TNB, Gentari, Yinson GreenTech, Go To-U, EON, Go Auto, PEKEMA, has traveled 827km from Bangsar, up to Tanjung Kuala Paka, resting at Teluk Cempedak and back home to Bangsar.

Although I am used to using electric scooters and may be used to some planning to charge them, this is my first time driving an electric car for a long distance and for this entire convoy, I have driven three different electric cars for several sectors of the trip namely from Bangsar to the Rehat & Rawat Paka area, from the Rehat & Rawat Paka area to Teluk Cempedak, and followed the next day from Teluk Cempedak back to Bangsar. The cars I drive are Hyundai IONIQ 6 and IONIQ 5 from Sime Darby Auto Hyundai, and BYD Atto 3 from Gentari.

The purpose of this convoy held with the media is to provide a long-distance travel experience for electric cars, and also provide exposure to technology related to the electric vehicle industry. Matters such as driving patterns and styles, range anxiety, charging technology and charging roaming, were also shared throughout this convoy.

Bangsar to the Rest & Treatment Area – Hyundai IONIQ 6

Departing from TNB headquarters in Bangsar, I was loaned a Hyundai IONIQ 6 MAX RWD and I drove this car from Bangsar to Gambang, with a short stop at Petronas Bentong. From Bangsar to Petronas Bentong for a distance of 56.6km, from a 100% full battery I only used 10% of battery power with a battery energy rate of 14.5 kWh/100km and still had 90% left. Due to the uphill and downhill journey, after Genting Sempah I managed to recover 3-4% battery power, by changing the IONIQ 6's 'regenerative braking' level from level 2 to 3, depending on the situation.

Continuing the journey from Petronas Bentong to Petronas Gambang for a distance of 134.4km, I have used as much as 25% of the battery power, that is from 90% to 65% with the battery energy rate used at a rate of 14.9 kWh/100km. The flatter, straight and sloping road from Bentong to Gambang made me drive faster and use more power. In fact since there weren't many downhill situations, I didn't regenerate any energy on this trip either. The convoy stopped for a moment at Petronas Gambang to give way to several other electric vehicles to charge briefly using the 180kW Gentari charger.

Next the trip from Petronas Gambang to Kawasan Rehat & Rawat Paka was driven by my colleague Andrew from Nextrift but one of the things I just learned is how rain can affect the travel distance of electric vehicles. Depending on the level of rain, it can reduce travel distance because rain can cause energy consumption to increase by around 3-5%. Nevertheless, since the Hyundai IONIQ 6 is designed with aerodynamics in mind, the energy consumption is still not too high and for this journey of 142.2km it has used battery energy at a rate of 15.6 kWh/100km with the battery remaining at 33% from 65%. Up to this location, the travel distance is 333.2km

Rest & Treat DC Chargers (Westbound) Expected to Be Operational as Early as Second Quarter 2024

At Kawasan Rehat & Rawat Paka (Menghala Timur), this car was recharged using the TNB Electron stop, with the system operating the charging being from Go To-U. This TNB Electron Paka station is the last DC charging station along the East Coast Highway for those heading to Kelantan. It has a charging capacity of 180kW and according to TNB, at that rate it is equivalent to 60 small houses that have a 3kW system.

TNB also shared a bit about their plans for the next year, and DC charging for the Rest & Treatment Area (Barat Menghala) is expected to be available around the second quarter of 2024. This is one of the charging locations that users from the East Coast really need because most when users from Kelantan or Kuala Terengganu, will stop charging in Kuantan, and with this Paka Menghala Barat DC charger, it will definitely allow users to not have to leave the East Coast Highway.

Paka Rest & Treatment Area to Teluk Cempedak – Hyundai IONIQ 5

For the next sector of the trip, we were loaned a Hyundai IONIQ 5 Max and traveled 226 km to get to Teluk Cempedak, with a stopover at Muara Sungai Paka. However, due to unpredictable weather conditions, and the risk of flooding, we use the highway a lot for this sector of travel.

We continued our journey to our next stop which was the ChargEV charging station in Indera Mahkota, Pahang. In this location there is a DC 120 kW charger and there are also various other attractions nearby such as coffee shops, restaurants, and even shopping malls. This strategic location can ensure that users who are charging their vehicles can do other things while waiting for the charging to be done.

Teluk Cempedak to Bangsar – BYD Atto 3

The journey home the next day was by using a BYD Atto 3 Standard Range with 100% full battery power with a travel distance of around 400km NEDC / 345km WLTP. For the first time in this entire trip, I was hampered by range anxiety because the battery level was decreasing rapidly and the distance traveled was also decreasing rapidly. Andrew and I drove with almost the same driving pattern as the previous day, but obviously had to be careful as it seemed to use more energy and drive slower when passing the Temerloh Rest & Treat area.

I stopped to charge at Petronas Genting Sempah using the Gentari DC 24kW charger. The remaining energy at that time is 13% with a travel distance of 207km and the energy consumption rate is 15.8kWh/100km. Maybe for those of you with experience, maybe you will say 13% from Genting Sempah to Bangsar is enough but since this is only my 3rd time driving an EV car, and the first time driving a BYD Atto 3, I didn't take that risk, and spent time eating noon for 48 minutes to charge the car until the battery reaches 43% before continuing the journey home.

What is Charging Roaming

Using Gentari charging, there is a term among electric vehicle charging providers that is 'charging roaming'. Originally, electric vehicle charging services were isolated, and required users to have their own applications. Like TNB Electron, it requires users to use the Go To-U app, which also has chargers in Cyberjaya. Charging roaming is when you subscribe to one particular charger provider, but you can still use chargers provided by other companies.

Starting June 2023, Gentari, JomCharge, and ChargEV work together to enable charging roaming, and for this charging process in Genting Sempah, I have used the ChargEV application to activate the Gentari charger and also make payments through it. Currently there are not many charging providers that allow charging roaming, however this may change over time.


This 827km journey has obviously exposed me to a few things. First of all there is a difference between the travel prediction system and also the distance standard specified by the manufacturer. When I drove the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and IONIQ 6, I didn't feel any irritation, probably because there was still enough distance with the WLTP measurement as a marker. But this is far different when driving a BYD Atto 3 which displays NEDC measurements and is seen as using more energy and injecting travel annoyance when the battery is left at 13% in Genting Sempah.

Another thing in my observation is the comfort and sophistication that electric cars offer that usually exist in luxury cars. Without any engine noise, and with special tires developed for electric vehicles, drivers certainly do not feel they are faster than usual and here the importance of advanced equipment such as the ability to follow the speed of the car in front (Adaptive Cruise Control) which also increases the level of 'intelligence' of a vehicle electricity. Even in terms of acceleration, electric cars offer acceleration power equal to high-performance cars that usually sell for millions of ringgit, and this makes most electric car owners feel that these cars are more fun to drive.

It's a two-day journey of 827 km, although it's not far and long enough, but to some extent it provides the experience of using long-distance electric cars. And for East Coast users, there is a need for more DC charging along highways to reduce reliance on limited chargers. This is because when this convoy takes place with 7-10 electric cars, each car can be said to take around 30-40 minutes to reach 80% charging level, and if DC chargers are not provided faster, there will be a challenge of charging availability during the upcoming festive season Electric car drivers who are easily hampered by travel anxiety need to do additional planning to ensure they can reach their destination.

However, I also think that travel annoyance will decrease as charging increases regardless of AC or DC type, and will also decrease as drivers become more familiar with their electric vehicles. This year has already shown great potential with the increase in the ownership of electric vehicles, so next year will definitely see more rapid growth in the electric vehicle industry.

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