There are many indicators to growth and they are not necessarily based on the revenue or volume figures that we are accustomed to. While the bottom line is still a priority, true growth is a journey and there are several milestones to pass through.
However, the voyage between milestones also matters — a bumpy ride can change the definition of a journey, even if the destination is reached. In the last half decade or so, the
automotive industry has shaped itself towards a stronger foundation. While sales volume may have had higher growth rates in the past, total sales to production ratios have narrowed its gap over the years, signalling a higher level of localised assembly across the board in both national and non-national operations within our borders.
Parts and components exports have more than doubled over the last half decade, and is expected to yet again achieve record levels by the end of this year. A higher degree of complete built-up exports were seen, signalling higher contribution of non-national exports, which previously was close to non-existent. Overall, the local automotive value chain has stronger linkages, and results are pointing towards a renewed strength through new measurable achievements.
However, a strong foundation is only an enabler to more success, it is not a guarantee of continued relevance. The remaining question is simple — are we ready for the next step? For me, readiness is not a solid state or position — but rather a fluid, dynamic proneness to respond as swiftly as possible. If we compare two stone pieces of equal weight, a polished round shape is much easier to push when compared to one with a jagged, uneven surface. In a world where technology and trends can be rendered obsolete overnight, industry readiness is measured based on its ability to adapt quickly, not only its current performance based on singular indicators.
The current National Automotive Policy (NAP) focused first and foremost on a change of mindset—balancing current economic needs,future business thinking and social upward mobility.
The new and enhanced NAP is going through its final phases before it will be announced in the very near future, encompassing technology direction and business strategies in next-generation vehicles, mobility as a service and Industry 4.0 compliance.
Several technology road-maps will also be developed specifically to industry adoption and penetration of technologies surrounding the connected mobility sector. If we take a look at this year’s motor shows in Geneva, Frankfurt or Tokyo, the overall sentiment from car-makers was the sudden leap of faith from conventional transportation to connected mobility,a stark contrast in temperature for electrification and autonomous technology, if compared to previous editions.
For a developing market like Malaysia, such leaps of faith are often tough to make, and it is the government’s role in pacifying anxieties and hesitation — placing the safety wheels as we embark on the next phase of the mobility industry. The industry can expect a higher degree of enhancement opportunities in developing capabilities in smarter vehicles, components and systems, as well as the utilization advanced materials,processes and data-driven decision making.
New business models in both manufacturing and services sectors will emerge, and meaningful participation of local players will be encouraged. The natural impact of the policy implementation can be expected — smarter and safer vehicles, mobility services, high value job opportunities and improved after-sales service for Malaysians.
In conclusion,the answer to the question of our readiness is also simple. With the opportunities and ecosystem we have built, we are fortunate that we can see the gap we must jump across. All we need is to do is get ready to jump.
“Luck is merely when preparation meets opportunity.”
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii).