The latest offering from BMW Malaysia is the i3s, a car designed to incorporate natural renewable resources and upcycled materials from concept to production. Available from July, this fully electric car is manufactured from the ground up to ensure a consistent quota of 95% recyclability, especially of the non-renewable aluminium and copper used in its build. Malaysia is among the first countries in the region where this car can be bought, due to the readiness of the local market. Indeed, according to BMW Malaysia managing director and CEO Harald Hoelzl, Malaysians are huge fans of electric and hybrid engine drivetrains. “Here, more than in any other country in the world — it’s the No 1 topic.”
From reinventing the development processes for electric mobility to overhauling production with 100% clean and renewable energy and using up to 95% recyclable materials in the creation of its vehicles, BMW has led the conversation in an industry that is not traditionally associated with conservation. This innovation was partly driven by the younger and more environmentally aware consumer who was looking for more from his carmaker — it is not just about performance and power but also about the quality of that mobility and the cost to Earth.
“This is what the Malaysian customer values, definitely,” Hoelzl says. “Local buyers are putting a lot of focus on sustainability and the environment, and this fits perfectly with BMW’s strategy. We place a lot of emphasis on electrifying our model line-up, and Malaysia, you could say, is a lead market. At present, 64% of BMW’s local market is taken up by our plug-in hybrid vehicles.”
Hoelzl has been stationed in Malaysia for a little more than a year now, managing the Munich marque’s longstanding business in the country, which includes BMW, Mini Cooper and the Motorrad range of motorcycles. Launching a fully electric vehicle in Malaysia was his target from the time he arrived, as he immediately noticed how well plug-in hybrids were selling here. Consumers liked the option of petrol-powered pep on the highways and the emission-free experience in the cities. Interestingly, this very much mirrors his own experiences on the road.
“I really enjoy driving my M5 ... more than 600 horsepower, roaring engine and flying exhaust flaps… when I start the car in the morning, I put the windows down to enjoy the sound of the engine,” he says with a smile. “But I also enjoy driving plug-in hybrids, and I drive myself because I love the journey from Bangsar to Cyberjaya and back. I drive in full electric mode when I’m in the city area, then I switch to petrol mode later on. I like the feeling that I am not further polluting the city. There is no compromise on the driving experience because the power is still enormous and the electric torque gives you a lot of push when you need it.”
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