Since the National Automotive Policy 2014 (NAP2014) was announced, we saw a rapid transition in the development of the automotive industry. While it was a tall order for many at the beginning, and while we were not spared from criticism from many angles, the results spoke for itself.
The first two years were perhaps the toughest part – firstly, to convince the entire nation that we had to gradually liberalising the market.
Secondly, we had to attain significant buy-in whereby a policy of energy efficiency was the way forward in a country that has been traditionally accustomed to convenient fuel dependance.
Third and most significantly, the automotive sector spanned across many government, industry and academic functions, making consolidation towards a singular direction a mammoth task to co-ordinate.
Against all odds, we have overcome most of these obstacles. The support and foresight of numerous industry captains, ministers and the civil service groups have unified the nation towards making Malaysia an EEV hub.
Without such immense belief in the long term goals we set out for, it would not have been possible to achieve the results we saw at the beginning of this year.
EEV penetration increased significantly as at December last year – 52 per cent of new cars in Malaysia were EEVs. Exports of new and remanufactured parts and components surpassed the RM11 billion and RM500 million mark respectively, since 2016.
More than 25000 jobs were created in last year alone, recording a continuous year-on-year increase since the Malaysian Automotive Human Capital Development Roadmap was launched in 2014.
While original equipment manufacturers have been instrumental in their commitment to producing EEVs, our local vendors have also achieved greater milestones towards competitiveness.
The vendors are transforming their business models and investing in the production of high technology components, such as plastic fuel tanks and advanced driver assistance systems, which are designed and developed using advanced technologies like digital prototyping and manufacturing execution systems.
Through the NAP2014, these upstream capabilities will be expanded through dedicated research and development facilities established by Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI), such as the MAI Design Center, National Emission Test Center and the MAI Resource Centre.
The policy will be able to achieve greater nationwide outreach with the establishment of various MAI Satellite Nodes in the northern, southern, and eastern regions of Peninsular Malaysia, as well as in Sabah and Sarawak.
The shift we have seen in the past four years are not only in policy, but also, more importantly, in thinking paradigm.
The NAP has proven to be a catalyst in change in the industry and society – we not only believe in our abilities, but are now more determined than ever to compete on equal footing with the rest of the world and bring the entire nation towards greater heights.
This paradigm shift needs to continue as it will be the foundation for our next transformation phase – through the National Automotive Policy 2018 (NAP2018).
It is a policy that will upgrade the current NAP2014 to focus beyond energy efficiency, and include high-end technology that will transform how we do business, create new high-impact careers and enhance our lifestyle through a redefined notion of mobility.
To achieve this, our current thinking and ambition can’t change course as the development of a nation, especially a technology driven one, is a long-term endeavour that must withstand short-term distractions and disruptions.
Policies, business thinking and individual ambitions may be tweaked upon shifts in trends – but must not be eroded in its principles in order to achieve its long term goals.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.