In the previous parts, this series discussed the rationale and framework of the National Automotive Policy 2014 (NAP2014), towards making Malaysia a regional hub for Energy Efficient Vehicles (EEVs) - to further spur investment, technology acquisition and market expansion within the domestic industry.
The direction towards EEV production streamlines efforts towards a unified development strategy for the entire industry. To meet the capacity requirements of an EEV hub, the infrastructure, human talent, production base and after-sales capabilities in the country must be able to cater to the new technological complexities surrounding EEV production and services.
Last year, 32.6 per cent of cars registered in Malaysia were certified as EEVs, which demonstrates not just a strong reaction from the industry in the production of EEVs, but also increased public participation and market consumption of vehicles with a higher degree of fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness.
Despite uncertain economic times, the domestic industry proved stable last year, against all odds, with a total industry volume (TIV) of 666,674 units. Along with TIV, total production volume (TPV) recorded its highest numbers in history with 614,664 units.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that TIV and TPV trends are expected to fluctuate based on the economic situation of the day. The prolonged foreign exchange phenomenon has admittedly affected the industry performance, just like the previous economic crises in 1985, 1997 and 2008.
It is therefore important to fairly assess industry growth beyond sales and production figures, to include its direct and indirect impacts towards higher value gains to the nation as a whole.
In terms of local capacity, the automotive industry has since grown to house more than 700 local vendors, dealers and distribution centres operating in Malaysia, with a total workforce of more than 600,000 talents.
Through the Malaysian Automotive Technology Roadmap, 16 research and development (R&D) projects are currently underway in areas of battery technology, electric bus system, and advance manufacturing. Nine of these projects have completed their respective research phases and are ready for commercialization.
While production centralises around the peninsula due to logistic advantages, we have seen numerous initiatives that serve as in-roads to increase participation of East Malaysians in the automotive industry.
These initiatives include the recent establishment of the Transport Innovation Centre in Kuching, as a node office for R&D activities for sustainable mobility to take place. This year alone, Malaysia Automotive Institute's Bumiputera Workshop Transformation Program and Industry Professional Certificate provided new jobs and business enhancement to more than 100 workshops and 900 semi-skilled workers in Sabah and Sarawak.
These figures, which are merely the tip of the iceberg, demonstrate an increasing, holistic value of the automotive industry based on a design and innovation doctrine, as enshrined by the NAP 2014.
However, the path to success is still long and winded, and it will take more collaborative efforts to fully realise the potential that Malaysians have towards achieving competitiveness in the global automotive markets.
"Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success"
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.