In January last year, the world met to discuss the future as seen through the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0. In July last year, we started discussing its impact, and most importantly, its adaptation within the domestic industry.
In all fairness, nobody expected much after the subdued end to 2016. We celebrated the coming of 2017 with a reduction in vehicle sales, and many argued that we were in crisis mode.
However, we said in January that the automotive industry had developed, a higher level of resilience.
On the national front, we realised that economic uncertainty is no longer an excuse to dismiss strong foundations. Economic policies and budget implementations were designed to allow for greater economic resilience.
It may not have been the most popular way forward, but tax and incentive structures worked towards increasing our value on the global stage. We refused to handout fish but helped people to fish effectively.
This year was that year where we walked the talk and as an industry, continued the implementation towards a new era of global competitiveness.
Despite the economic uncertainty which had been looming since early 2015, exports of automotive parts and components are expected to hover closer to the RM12 billion mark by the end of this year, more than double the RM4.7 billion in 2014.
Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV) penetration rate rose to 42.3 percent as at last month from 14.1 per cent in 2014. It is expected to surpass the 50 per cent mark by the end of the year, reflecting the growing support for energy efficient mobility.
Vendor Productivity also rose tremendously. In 2014, 315 automotive vendors were ranked at Level 3 or higher, with these figures expected to almost double by the time we hit 2018.
Taking things to a broader level, the progress seen in this year is a reflection of our national economic performance. The World Bank revised Malaysia's gross development product growth forecast for this year to 5.2 per cent, as stronger investments and private-sector expenditure increased - a reflection of strong economic foundations through solid economic policies.
The domestic economy was a key force in economic growth this year, with an average growth of seven per cent in the first half of the year. A clear sign of renewed consumer confidence of a recovering economy.
There is a saying, "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts". The economic figures mentioned above are important. They are indications of the results we have sowed.
For me, our bigger achievement goes beyond the figures we recorded. Year on year, we strive to improve on our past by looking towards our plans for the future. That often means questioning our current practices, despite how uncomfortable change may be. After all, success always tastes better when it is difficult and challenging to realise.
We chose to be competitive and we decided to achieve it outside our norms. We took bold steps towards our goals.
Despite heated debate, we finalised the strategic partnership between Proton and Geely. Admittedly, our nostalgic fondness of holding on made it a bittersweet milestone. However, we knew that to achieve global competitiveness, we needed to compete as a global player.
So far, we are seeing positive response from consumers and dealers in the brand. It will forever remain a Malaysian brand, built by Malaysian talent with the support of a global partner. There is absolutely no harm in learning from a more experienced teammate.
A key feature of this column was social upward mobility. We have always believed in living within our means, and to reach higher level means to increase the value of the "means". This means moving from the labour commodity thinking to making innovation our commodity of trade.
With tremendous support from the industry and government, we developed more career advancement and business enhancement opportunities. Through our Industry 4.0 implementation, more vendors will have access to advanced product and process design capabilities, and will create more high value jobs for Malaysians.
As we approach the end of 2017, I hope we breach 2018 with renewed spirit and re-engineered thinking. Creativity and innovation should be what defines our great nation, and we compete on our own grounds, with capability developed from within.
The key to not to run away from problems, but face them head on. Remember, one man's problem is another man's business or job opportunity. We are all here to solve the problems of others.
Next year, or the year following this one, will come with its own set of challenges.
Life is a gift for those who appreciate the challenges it brings - take them in with solutions that are fair, factual, innovative, and most importantly, elevate the value of our work in the eyes of our fellow countrymen, society and our Creator.
I wish all of you a happy 2018. May the resilience we have shown bring us closer to our goals in achieving global competitiveness.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.