The governments of advanced nations are aggressively working towards sustainable mobility in ensuring the generations to come inherit a world where transportation is safer, more convenient, accessible and most importantly, environmentally friendly.
As one of the few car producing nations, Malaysia sits on the tipping point in balancing the automotive industry´s economic interest and ensuring that mobility for the people is provided.
In a nutshell, sustainable mobility requires the effective placement of different transport modes in specific areas, through the development of new technological solutions and legislative framework to meet the needs mentioned above.
For example, public transportation must be made available in cities to alleviate traffic jams and reduce pollution, while cars frequent areas in which public transportation is not a viable option.
This creates the need for technological solutions for all vehicle types, making them more affordable, and less dependant on fossil fuels.
Current laws need to be revised to balance the economic needs of commuters, businesses and future generations.
The National Automotive Policy (NAP 2014) introduced a framework that makes Energy Efficient Vehicles (EEVs) a priority in the nations future vehicle design, manufacturing and after − sales activities.
Simply put, EEVs are defined as any vehicle that meets a set standard of fuel consumption and carbon emissions. An EEV can be any type of powertrain − internal combustion engines, electric vehicles, hybrids and fuel cells.
Since the NAP2014 was launched, numerous car models have received EEV status, allowing fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles to be priced more affordably for consumers.
These vehicles range from entry level models, such as the Perodua Axia and Haval M4, to the luxury models such as the Volvo XC90.
The implementation of the EEV policy has also pushed for the involvement of Malaysians in advanced engine development and lightweight body design.
Research & Development programs, led by Malaysian companies, are now in motion to bring cutting edge sustainable technologies to consumers in the areas of fuel efficiency, safety as well as security.
As the EEV policy also promotes energy efficient processes, car manufacturers do not stop at producing energy efficient vehicles only.
The need to enhance competitiveness has led to numerous car makers developing new energy efficient factories, to ensure production costs are optimised.
It is important to note that the framework of the EEV policy looks beyond increasing the production volume of cars alone.
It is imperative, and inevitable, that the technology spin-off be applicable to the various modes of public transportation.
In the foreseeable future, all vehicles that roam our cities and rural areas − cars, buses and taxis − will be able to reduce emissions and depend less on fossil fuels.
A key example is the development of Malaysia´s first Electric Bus, which is expected to be in production next year.
The drive towards sustainable mobility is not just dependant on the Ministry of International Trade and Industry alone.
The implementation of accessible, yet eco−friendly transport will be a product of the entire machinery of government bodies, academia, industry as well as public participation.
This effort must look into a broad array of issues including fuel standards, power generation, environmental standards, technology acquisition, as well as education.
It is the writer´s hope that the NAP2014 be valued as a key component towards sustainable mobility, and that the governance and efforts strike the economic and social balance needed to place Malaysia on the global map.