Sync R&D, the brainchild of entrepreneur Azlan Merican, was conceptualised in 2011, with the aim of producing electric buses which would help transport operators stop importing buses from China. While inexpensive, these buses were considered troublesome and its maintenance was costly.
According to Azlan, Chinese electric bus companies would rather fly in their own engineers for maintenance, resulting in no technology transfer and an outflow of money - essentially a loss to the country.
Demand here is high, he told Free Malaysia Today. RapidKL, along with the ever-increasing MRT and LRT expansion projects, would indicate that more buses are necessary.
More than RM 40 million was spent over the next six years for research and development purposes, engineering, and construction of the first Elektrik Bas Inovasi Malaysia (Ebim). Ebim was certified by the Road Transport Department in 2017 and Sync R&D received a letter of agreement from MRT Corp with the request for a few units of Ebim. Unfortunately, the deal was never signed.
In 2018, the administration under the new government reviewed unsigned deals, which led to the cancellation of the deal with Sync R&D. Despite appealing, there has been no follow up since. The situation led to huge monetary losses and Azlan had to release a majority of his employees. From 40 highly-paid employees, he now only has eight, who work part-time or from home.
His frustration is clear to see and he only wants the government to give him a chance to launch his pilot project, but was told by some people in the government that it was easier to procure electric buses from overseas.
Azlan added on, “It kills me when people say it’s easier to buy from China because our country benefits so little. There’s no technology transfer and no jobs created and our money goes to China to benefit its economy.”
The lower operating costs and weight of the Ebim, along with a composite monocoque body that can last up to 20 years, the idea sounds like a solid one. He also claimed that he had received offers from other countries but was waiting to see if Malaysia would like to take up the offer first.
By: Celestine Foo