EP Manufacturing (EPMB) have recently announced two electric motorcycle pilot programmes for p-hailing riders through a collaboration with Grab Malaysia. Both of these programmes revolve around the Blueshark R1 electric scooter which was officially launched in Malaysia back in March.
One of them is a trial run that will involve 50 units of the R1 for selected Grab riders. Accompanied by two batteries, test riders will be able to utilise the electric scooter for free while Blueshark will gather telemetry data and user feedback for research purposes.
The second programme has a bigger footprint since it targets all Grab riders. Under this particular programme, riders can obtain the R1 at a lower price although EPMB did not mention the actual discounted price tag.
EPMB did say that riders will be offered three months of unlimited battery swaps at RM139 per month instead of being limited to the BlueSwap Pro’s standard monthly cap of 120 times. At the moment, neither of the company have announced when exactly these programme will be opened to Grab riders but a filing to Bursa Malaysia by EPMB did say that this partnership will last for one year.
Grab Malaysia is finally catching up
Over the years, Grab’s subsidiaries in other markets such as Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam have dabbled with electric motorcycles. So, the newly announced cooperation is a long time coming for Grab Malaysia.
In general, the only experience that Grab Malaysia had with electric vehicles was the Tesla Model S ride that it offered to customers in mid-October 2016. It was done in collaboration with the Malaysian Green Technology Corporation which ran a Tesla-endorsed corporate leasing scheme at that time.
Good intention but ambitious aim
As part of the announcement, EPMB said it aims to convince 80,000 Grab riders to move from motorcycles with traditional internal combustion engines (ICE) to electric motorcycles. Given that the cost to purchase ICE-based motorcycles in Malaysia is generally still much lower than electric motorcycles, that seems like a tall order.
Take the Blueshark R1 itself as an example: the Lite variant of the motorcycle costs RM13,182 on-the-road without insurance while the full-fledged version is priced at RM15,424. You can get them for much cheaper at RM7,667 and RM9,909 respectively but you must be willing to lease the motorcycle’s batteries for RM79 per month instead of owning them outright.
One of the Blueshark R1’s signature traits is its swappable battery design but the idea of battery swapping itself which costs RM1.95 per swap is still a foreign concept for most riders in Malaysia. Furthermore, there are only four Blueshark battery swapping stations have been deployed so far, with all of them located within the vicinity of Subang Jaya, Petaling Jaya, and Shah Alam.
Hence, trying to convince 80,000 motorcycle riders to switch to electric motorcycles is not going to be easy. Nevertheless, Grab Malaysia is quite far behind when it comes to electrification and the new partnership with EPMB seems like a good starting point.