• Madani Sahari

Advances in Mobility Sector

One important lesson I’ve learned in policy development is about the evaluation of performance on a macro scale. Humans prefer things to be simple and relatable to their personal world view. In contrast, policies are created to cast as wide a net as possible, serving every interest and stakeholder and trying to bring the best out of every aspect.

Due to the human nature mentioned above, it is also natural that — based on popular interest and market segmentation, we are served with a handful of indicators that attempt to paint a holistic picture of the state of the industry. For a few decades, we measured domestic sales and production as our way of measuring the industry’s success — we commonly know these figures as total industry volume (TIV) and total production volume (TPV), respectively.

As long as we keep selling and producing more, we are deemed more successful. We soon realised that the TIV and TPV figures placed players in the same category and did not take into account the entire value chain. They were also affected by trends in changing ownership behaviour, increasing carbon footprint awareness, market saturation and economic fluctuations. Over time, we’ve learned to look at industry success through a wider scope, falling back on the reason we decided to take the bold step of going automotive in the first place — to spur local participation in new technology.

We started measuring the number of new jobs and businesses created, as well as our success in encouraging exports of new and remanufactured parts and components. We also looked at the capabilities of our after-market sector and, most recently, the ability of our local industry. Although the sales figures of our national cars went through fluctuation, it nonetheless created the ecosystem we needed to industrialise.

While it is important to know how our regional competition is growing, spurring basic assembly no longer is the only consideration on incentivising investments. Growing investment figures are always welcome, but they must also convert into more participation in higher-value activities, such as a design, engineering and strategic planning. After all, Malaysia is not trying to get out of poverty, our targets must be aligned with the goal of becoming an advanced nation.

To this end, through Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute, the International Trade and Industry Ministry will report the holistic growth at the start of each year. It looks not only at numerical figures, but also nonnumerical value that signifies the growth of industry.

While 2018 saw its highest records of energy-efficient vehicle penetration, parts and components exports, and remanufactured component exports, this trend is expected to increase further by the end of the year. As we move into the era of connected mobility, we have launched numerous programmes to enhance small and medium enterprises’ performance in new sectors created in the digital economy. We have created programmes to spur participation in Mobility-as-a-Service, launched new vehicle workshop business models, and introduced schemes aimed at bridging the gap between the rural and urban economies to allow participation in the technology industry of connected mobility.

By the end of this year, more automotive businesses will have increased their capacities in product and process design, in line with Industry 4.0. Most importantly, we will have developed capacity to re-align ourselves to our objectives of setting up the national car four decades ago — creating an industry that not only allows for meaningful participation in technology, but also creates the necessary spin-offs to other sectors — such as agriculture, tourism, furniture and forestry that have been par t of our economic ecosystem and also new ones we can participate in.

At the end of the day, success is a journey and not a destination. When a race is viewed from afar, it is easy to spot who is in front or behind us. However, we must get closer to the track to see the obstacles that are slowing us down, work together to remove them and allow for a clear path ahead.

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