Thursday, 24 November 2016

Automotive sector must play lead role in environment agenda

Malaysia is expected to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement by the year end.
The agreement, signed by almost 200 countries, aims to limit global temperatures to well below two degrees Celsius through an international deal that will come into force by 2020.
The issue of environmental protection standards had gone through many challenges in the last few decades.
In fact, the latest summit in Paris went through a long and arduous process spanning 24 years, since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted and opened for signatures in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992.
It is however important to note that environmental agendas are one of the most contentious and politically diverse, particularly due to its success, or failure, depends largely on economic priorities.
In general, environmental policies usually take a back seat to the economic situation of the public at large.
Despite Malaysia’s continuous commitment to global environmental initiatives, many nations are unwilling to prioritize environmental policies when its implementation affects the costs of living for its citizens.
The case for "climate change deniers", which have seemed to receive significant airtime in recent global political movements, have also contributed to this contention.
Nevertheless, it is quite reassuring to see an equal, even arguably stronger, political will from a large portion of nations in support for the implementation of a standardized eco-policy that benefits all players following the summit in Paris.
Regardless of political progress or digression, the automotive sector must play a leading role in environmental preservation.
Undeniably, carbon emissions from vehicles have been reported as a major contributor to air pollution globally.
Although most calculations point to vehicles on the road, it is also important to look at the vehicle manufacturing process and aftermarket activities -  which undoubtedly, also contribute to carbon emissions in addition to the aforementioned above.
Numerous articles in this column have pointed to the vastness of the automotive industry, consisting not only of OEMs, vendors and raw material producers, but also the after market sectors of vehicle service, recycling and remanufacturing.
While technology has been utilised to produce more fuel efficient and experientially immersive transportation, the same technology, and development approach must take into consideration its impacts to the ecosystem.
As mentioned,  economic conduciveness must be present to allow existence of the will to preserve the environment.
These conditions are most prevalent in the within the automotive industry, as it is one of the few industries that has created an ecosystem where the talents are not only scientifically equipped, but also have the necessary framework of standards and technology to create a sustainable environment.
This is proven through the rapid introduction of eco-friendly vehicles, seen in the development of hybrid, electric and fuel cell technology within today’s global automotive market.

Despite still being a relatively small player, Malaysia is still one of the few nations in the world with full fledged vehicle design and manufacturing capabilities.
As awareness of environmental protection agendas grow within the global community, it is important for the domestic automotive industry to play a strong participative role in leading the environmental agenda within the region and the world.
After all, this is not just a good cause, it happens to also be an economic activity of the future.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute. This is the first part of a series articles on the environmental of the MAI.

Read the second part of the series articles here:

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Sales Environment Completes NAP 2014 Framework

THE turn of global events in the past year will become an interesting subject of study and forecasting in the years to come.
This year, the world was rocked by the United Kingdom populace's consent to Brexit, triggering the process of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union.
Apart from impacts to the UK itself, the EU will lose a major contributor to its budget, as well as a precedence for more potential withdrawals from the two-decade-old regional block.
Against all odds, last week the United States created history by voting in a president-elect with first-time experience in government ad-ministration. Countless theories were offered to understand such a shift in American politics.
Although it is still too soon to predict the course of economic policy and governance of these global giants, it is important to note that as a sign of change to come and the acknowledgement of arising opportunities as a result of this wave of change.
These recent developments have demonstrated that perceptions towards the globalised economy have surpassed rules of conventional wisdom, moving into an era where the competitiveness of players will centre around solid analytics of the vast information available, while never forgetting the fundamental building blocks that allow quick adaptation to change in global trends.
As a relatively smaller player within the global automotive industry, it is key that sensitivity towards global shifts is developed within our ranks. Despite our three decade-long effort and established domestic manufacturing base, we must also ride the tide towards higher level of automotive design, processes and technology penetration.
The National Automotive Policy 2014 was designed with adaptability in mind. While gradually liberalising the market. It aims to prepare the domestic industry for global competitiveness, through identifying and development of key areas within the industry, such as manufacturing, research and development, design and process validation, after-sales standards and remanufacturing.
On top of this, this gradual liberalisation must be felt by the consumer, realised through the ever growing range of choices that are available, in particular for vehicles
certified as energy-efficient vehicles (EEVs). This in turn completes the much needed ecosystem of high value, technology and opportunity for businesses and human talent alike.
As the National Automotive Policy (NAP) 2014 materialises over the years, consumer participation and awareness on the quality, safety, security and environmental impacts of EEVs must be ensured as consumption of EEVs by the regional market increases.
For the second year running, the Malaysia Autoshow, formerly known as the Asean Autoshow, has managed to capture the attention of the public through it successful organisation on November 10-13. It has continuously brought in more than 100,000 visitors, showcasing more than 60 models from numerous carmakers operating within Malaysia.
The key feature of this year's event was the launch of the BAIL EV200, the first electric vehicle to be assembled in Malaysia. This is a significant milestone in the EEV policy. as well as the start of the local industry’s venture into alternative powertrain vehicles.
The show has also opened the public eyes to the benefits of EEVs as well as enhancing public awareness on new employment and business opportunities through information booths by Malaysia Automotive Institute, original equipment manufacturers, vendors and other transport-related agencies.
It has been an immersive experience for all, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their participation. I hope that the autoshow has served its purpose as a strong close to a challenging year for the industry and nation.
"Find out what the customer wants, then make it better."
The writer is chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.

This is the third and final part of a series of articles written in conjunction with the Malaysia Autoshow 2016. 

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Enhancing regional recognition for Malaysian brands

The first part of this series discussed the importance of matching actual quality to perceived quality in the minds of consumers.
Despite all efforts in design and manufacturing of vehicles and its components, it is equally important to ensure efforts at the point of sales, as well as years of after sales service is given enough attention - to complete the longevity and sustainability of brands.
In general, all brands have a certain “promise” attached to them. This promise may apply to a specific brand, but can also be derived from the attachment to a particular nationality or region.
For example, the Toyota brand is synonymous with the consistent quality derived from the Toyota Production System (TPS), high technology is often associated with German cars, while “Continental” cars, i.e. cars originating from Europe have, at least up to the turn of the century, traditionally been perceived as having superior build quality compared to its counterparts from the rest of the world.
As the national automotive industry braves its continued attempt towards global competitiveness and regional exportability, we have come to a crossroads in developing marketing strategies in defining the brand that represents our industry.
While global market borders become ever more difficult to draw, global car makers have shifted to product development strategies which are peculiar to their own comparative advantages.
Traditionally, Malaysia’s national brands, Proton and Perodua, have had successful ventures within small and medium engine capacity markets (between 660cc to 1600cc), in particular within the A and B segments.
At the same time, global brands operating within our domestic ecosystem have also seen relative success within these markets, reflecting the tastes and demands of our local consumers.
As these segments generally comprise entry and mid range models, it is therefore highly strategic for Malaysia to focus on the strongest appeal of these segments in the minds of consumers – producing cars that are safe, secure but most importantly fuel efficient.
This rationale was a major factor in the government’s strategic formulation of the National Automotive Policy 2014, i.e. a holistic framework towards making Malaysia a regional hub for Energy Efficient Vehicles (EEVs).
The EEV policy streamlines the efforts of industry players, research institutions and government initiatives towards product and process technologies that are relevant to global trends of future powertrains, fuel consumption patterns and emission requirements.
While the policy framework has been enhanced through the numerous programs developed by MITI, MAI and other agencies for OEMs, vendors and after sales businesses, an important step in developing a unified branding framework is the organisation of the Malaysia Autoshow.
The show, to be held at the end of the year, aims to showcase the efforts in the development of the EEV ecosystem in Malaysia. To spur the EEV showcase at the regional level, the Malaysia Autoshow recently signed an MoU with the Bangkok International Motorshow (BIMS), to collaborate in the promotion of energy efficient vehicles within the ASEAN region.

As Thailand also has a similar framework in their Eco-Car policy, it is an excellent avenue to enhance awareness of fuel efficiency and eco-friendliness in automotive technology among the two countries as well as the region.
This article is the second part in a series of articles written in conjunction with the Malaysia Autoshow 2016.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Need for exciting sales environment to rev up sector

The Malaysian automotive industry has established a significant and robust manufacturing base, with more than 25 original equipment manufacturers and 700 parts and component manufacturers operating nationwide.
As one of only a handful of nations with automotive design and manufacturing capabilities, it has created an ecosystem in which strong fundamentals in automotive processes are practiced, based on quality management systems that are on par with global standards.
However, the design and manufacturing formula needs to be utilised in the grander equation that does not just meet consumer expectation, but changing consumer perception of local brands.
Unfortunately, consumers are not privy to the intricacies seen within the walls of the factory or the styling room. Consumer perception takes place mostly at two stages - the "purchasing decision environment", followed by the years of service when using and maintaining the vehicle they own.
In many advanced countries, consumer awareness surrounding vehicle ownership, particularly in the areas of vehicle maintenance, safety, and economic literacy, has demonstrated somewhat symbiotic relevance to the competitiveness of their domestic automotive sector.

Consumers having such awareness tend to make better decisions with regards to vehicle purchases, especially in terms of features that best fit their needs and use.
Therefore, despite the best enhancements initiatives at the upstream levels of design and manufacturing, the rejuvenation of the automotive industry must come hand in hand with reinvigorating excitement among consumers, ensuring they are abreast with new market introductions, and eager to invest their attention towards future trends in vehicle technology.
Since the NAP 2014 was announced, the automotive industry has seen an unprecedented level of consumer choices in car purchases.
We have seen competition among car makers through the numerous promotions given to the consumers during festive and year end promotions. The internet has allowed an elevated purchasing environment, with instant car price comparisons and "virtual showrooms" fast becoming a common sight.
To further spur this excitement, MAI will be organising the Malaysia Autoshow 2016 from the 10th to 13th November 2016. The Malaysia Autoshow is set to become the biggest composite annual automotive show in Malaysia with manufacturers and distributors of cars, bikes, trucks as well as aftermarket dealers exhibiting their products.
Last year, 32.6 percent of cars registered in Malaysia were certified as Energy Efficient Vehicles (EEVs), demonstrating 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.
With more than 60 new models on display at the Autoshow, it aims to spearhead the showcase of future trends in the auto industry, especially among the latest EEVs which also include electric, hybrid and diesel powered vehicles.

While consumers can expect to test drive the latest EEV models and receive special discounts at the Autoshow, more than 150 exhibitors from renowned vehicle brands, aftermarket and accessory products will lay out their extensive product range - making the showcase a year end milestone and significant closing to the year.
"Competition does not only provide choices to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress"

The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.

This is the first part of a three-part series of articles in conjunction with the Malaysia Autoshow 2016.

For the second part of the series, click here