One of the key ingredients to successful automotive industry development is a policy framework that balances the needs of the industry with the needs of the populace.
During the automotive industry’s infancy, government policy was formulated to allow space for industry growth. As the priority at the time was for a wide array of manufacturing processes to be turned into local business.
During this period, transitioning from an agrarian nation towards higher levels, i.e. the establishment of a manufacturing of factories, tooling capabililities and large scale logistics, were virtually impossible without a “pull factor”.
Local businesses were incentivised to increase investment in high precision manufacturing through the establishment of Proton, Perodua and others.
These projects would create the demand for manufacturing companies to exist within the ecosystem, especially to provide employment to the many graduates that were seeking technical positions.
Fast forward three decades, 27 original equipment manufacturing (OEMs) and more than 700 vendors later, the automotive industry has reached a point where industry challenges have evolved. The world’s consumers have developed a higher consciousness of transportation costs, environmental friendliness, and technological acumen – all within the norms of globalisation and economic liberalisation.
In 2008, the General Motors (GM) bore the brunt of such consumer mindset change. The energy crisis during the mid-2000s reduced domestic demand for GM’s fuel consuming sport utility vehicles and pick-up truck, in the search for more energy efficient alternatives. It took a large government bailout and product restructuring exercise to bring GM back to profitability.
History has shown that these “pull factors” have the power to make or break entire industries.
The National Automotive Policy 2014 (NAP2014) was formulated to create the balance mentioned above, but tailored to the new nuances of the current market scenarios. With energy costs seemingly fluctuating, it is timely that the local industry respond to the needs of the global consumer.
This is one of the main reasons the NAP2014 is focusing on the development of Energy Efficient Vehicles (EEVs) – these are products that address the demand for cheaper, environmentally friendly technology in the cars we produce.
In order to reach the needed scales of success, exportability of both vehicles and automotive components is a key tenet of the NAP2014.
Here is where it gets tricky – in order to export we must establish a local base, i.e. our local businesses must sell energy efficient products within our small market first before any chance of export success can materialise. At the same time, we can no longer afford to implement strong protectinist policies, it comes at a high cost to consumer choice and goes against international trade principles.
Henceforth comes the point of this article.
The current scenario requires the shift of the pull factor from OEMs to the consumer. The rise of energy costs have created an opportunity for the industry to solve the problems of the populace through the EEV direction – and one hurdle is for consumers to understand how these solutions can improve their lives.
It is for this reason the Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) is continuing the tradition of organising the Malaysia Autoshow. The 2017 edition will be held from the 9th to 12th November 2017 at the and Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) and aims to develop awareness through an immersive experience for consumers on the benefits of EEVs.
This year’s Autoshow is expected to be the biggest automotive exhibition and symposium, occupying all three halls and outdoor spaces of MAEPS.
Global brands exhibiting their latest models, especially Energy Efficient Vehicles. Visitors can test drive models and there will be special packages for car buyers at the show to process hire purchases on-site.
There will be automotive lifestyle exhibitions, go-kart slalom, off road drives and many more.
Parallel to the Autoshow will be the KL International Automotive Symposium. The symposium will discuss the major issues of the industry, including autonomous vehicles, electric mobility, intelligent transport system and Industry 4.0. It is expected to draw more than 4,000 participants with more than 30 international speakers.
It is my hope that the Malaysia Autoshow will continue to enhance consumer awareness on sustainable mobility, and emerge as the most anticipated event in the regional automotive calendar.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.