Helping consumers understand EEV solutions
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. 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 to higher levels, i.e. the establishment of a manufacturing of factories, tooling capabilities 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 manufacturers (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, 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 sports utility vehicles and pick-up trucks, in the search for more energy-efficient alternatives. It took a large government bailout and 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 current market scenarios. With energy costs seemingly fluctuating, it is timely that the local industry responds 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. We can no longer afford to implement protectionist policies as it come at a high cost to consumer choice and go 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 has 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 is continuing the tradition of organising the Malaysia Autoshow. The 2017 edition will be held from the November 9-12 at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) and aims to raise awareness by providing consumers an immersive experience 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 space of MAEPS.
Global brands will exhibit their latest models, especially EEVs. Visitors can test-drive the models and there will be special packages for car buyers. Representatives from various banks will be 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 Kuala Lumpur International Automotive Symposium. The symposium will discuss 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 and more than 30 international speakers.
It is my hope that the Malaysia Autoshow will continue to enhance consumer awareness of sustainable mobility, and emerge as the most anticipated event in the regional automotive calendar.
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.
The writer is the chief executive officer of the Malaysia Automotive Institute