Where is the promised National Automotive Policy?

(Bernama) – Another year goes by and yet, the much anticipated new National Automotive Policy (NAP) has yet to see the light of day despite talks of it being launched “soon”.

Industry players and observers continue to await for the policy which aims to take the local automotive industry to a whole new level; outlining efforts to transform Malaysia into a hybrid and energy-efficient vehicles (EEV) manufacturer, among other things.

The NAP was introduced in 2006 to transform the domestic automotive industry and integrate it into the increasingly competitive regional and global industry network.

The policy was reviewed in 2009 and 2014 to keep the local industry in pace with the current development.

In an interview with Bernama back in September, Malaysia Automotive, Robotic and IoT Institute (MARii) chief executive officer Datuk Madani Sahari said the policy would be implemented in three phases until 2030, with the first phase scheduled to run until 2023-2024.

MARii had been tasked to develop the policy by the Ministry of International Trade and Investment in August this year.

“The first phase of NAP 2019 will emphasise on the improvement of policies to infuse with new technologies, including in terms of human capital and competency,” said Madani.

He added that the first phase would focus on elements such as batteries production, management system and the establishment of charging stations, while the other two phases would focus on technological advancements, including 5G.

More interestingly, the new NAP would see the country shifting its focus towards developing an ecosystem for the “next-generation vehicle” (NxGV), which integrates artificial intelligence to enable safer, more efficient and high-performance driving.

The policy will also enable the creation of a new sector, mobility-as-a-service (MaaS), where transportation services from public and private transportation providers are combined in a unified gateway which creates and manages the trip.

It will also allow users to pay for the service either via cash or online payment .

Madani said this is to ensure that the country is not left behind in the MaaS sector following the exponential growth of e-hailing services.

Meanwhile, 2019 continued to showcase Perodua’s dominance in the local automotive industry as the local carmaker continues to maintain its lead in terms of vehicle sales.

According to the available data, Perodua has sold more than 200,000 units of vehicle as of October this year, more than double that of its closest competitor, Proton, which sold 79,423 units vehicle in the same period, followed by Honda at 71,489 units.

However, as Proton kickstarts its sport utility vehicle, X70’s completely knocked-down production this month, the market will become more interesting in the near future and give more competition to Perodua’s dominance in the market.

Overall, the total industry volume (TIV) for the January-October period stood at 496,861 units, compared with 502,128 units during the same period last year.

The amount was higher last year due to the three-month tax holiday period — the gap between the zerorisation of the Goods and Services Tax on June 1 and the implementation of the Sales and Services Tax on Sept 1.

This year’s TIV is also on track to settle at 600,000 units as forecast by the Malaysian Automotive Association.

However, MARii is more optimistic in its forecast, expecting the 2019 TIV to be around 605,000 units, growing to between 610,000 and 615,000 units in 2020.

While the two local carmakers continued to dominate the market, the new national car project also continued to make progress and is slated to make its debut in 2021.

The project was announced in August, and local company DreamEdge Sdn Bhd was chosen as the anchor company to develop the project, together with Japanese carmaker Daihatsu Motor Company as its technical partner.

Dreamedge said it plans to unveil the first prototype in March next year.

Its founder and chief executive officer Khairil Adri Adnan said the first model would be a C-segment hybrid sedan.