The new National Automotive Policy that was announced on Monday has been a hot topic of discussion in the industry for the past several days. For experienced observers of the industry, the contents of the new policy yielded little surprises and in fact served to raise more questions than answers. A number of key issues remain ‘under study’ and too many aspects of the policy remain vague, cultivating an atmosphere of uncertainty among industry players.
Nevertheless, with the official announcement having been made, car companies now have a better idea of the task at hand, and the local representatives will have something more substantial to present to their principals. Quite how will their respective HQs respond to the idea of ‘customized incentives’, where the goalposts can indeed vary from player to player, is something that will remain behind closed doors.
In the days that followed the official announcement, a number of car makers have issued their statements in response to the NAP and as you would expect, they were all of the ‘politically correct’ variety, claiming to happily welcome the announcement and looking forward to better days to come.
BMW Group Malaysia was among the first to make their views heard, with a statement from CEO Dr Gerhard Pils highlighting that, “The widened definition of Energy Efficient Vehicles (EEV) beyond technology specific criteria as well as engine size based criteria is a key step forward towards enhancing Malaysia’s automotive industry to be in a truly competitive level internationally.”
Indeed, BMW stands to benefit greatly from the widened EEV definition, as the vast majority of its TwinPower Turbo vehicles meet the stated criteria based on their weight and rated fuel consumption. In fact, we checked that even the 730Li, the last naturally-aspirated model in BMW’s line-up comfortably qualifies as an EEV. Currently, BMW assembles the 1 Series (116i & 118i), 3 Series (316i, 320i, 320d & 328i), 5 Series (520i, 520d & 528i), X1 (sDrive20i & xDrive20d), and X3 (xDrive20i and xDrive20d), ALL of which meet the EEV definition with their eyes closed. Cheaper BMWs await? Watch this space for more.
To expand on the list of EEV-qualified vehicles we compiled earlier this week, here is how BMW’s line-up of CKD models fare. Interestingly, both variants of the MINI Countryman assembled locally do not meet the EEV definition.
Small Family Car, 1,251 – 1,400kg, 6.5 l/100km
– 116i & 118i, 1,395kg, 5.9 l/100km
– MINI Countryman, 1,265kg, 7.6 l/100km (Not EEV)
Large Family Car, Compact Executive Car, 1,401 – 1,550kg, 7.0 l/100km
– 316i, 1,480kg, 5.9 l/100km
– 320i, 1,495kg, 6.0 l/100km
– 320d, 1,505kg, 4.5 l/100km
– 328i, 1,530kg, 6.3 l/100km
– MINI Cooper S Countryman, 1,405kg, 8.1 l/100km (Not EEV)
Executive Car, 1,551 – 1,800kg, 9.5 l/100km
– 520i, 1,690kg, 6.2 l/100km
– 520d, 1,705kg, 4.5 l/100km
– 528i, 1,700kg, 6.5 l/100km
– X1 sDrive20i, 1,585kg, 6.7 l/100km
– X1 xDrive20d, 1,660kg, 5.4 l/100km
– X3 xDrive20i, 1,795kg, 7.5 l/100km
– X3 xDrive20d, 1,800kg, 7.5 l/100km
Dr Pils nevertheless emphasized the importance of adding transparency into the policy, saying that, “It is important for further transparency and discussions to be conducted between MAI, MITI and the local automotive industry players to clarify what the actual exemptions to EEV vehicles assembled in Malaysia will be as only from there will firm business decisions regarding the market be made. These discussions should be conducted swiftly and carefully to ensure that both the automakers as well as the public can benefit mutually from the new policies moving forward.”
He continues his statement by re-iterating BMW’s long standing position calling for the expedient introduction of Euro 4 fuel in country, saying “We also hope that the Malaysian government will come to a decision regarding the implementation of Euro IV standard fuel soon. With many of our neighbours in ASEAN, not to mention the most vibrant automotive markets in the world, already working with EURO IV or better fuel standards today, the improvement of Malaysia’s fuel standards will be an important factor in determining the viability of Malaysia as an automotive exporter, and be very critical in allowing us to achieve an export volume of RM 5 billion by the year 2020 as outlined in this review of the NAP.”
Proton unsurprisingly expresses its support of the NAP as well, and states its desire to continuously develop new products with world-class features. The company welcomes the new widened EEV definition, although it is worth noting that the only model in its line-up that has an officially-rated NEDC fuel consumption, the Suprima S, fails to qualify as an EEV. The company is currently in the midst of developing new advanced powertrains that will involve hybrid technology and other ‘alternative propulsion’.
Safety will be taking a renewed focus at Proton, with an increasing number of safety features set to be made standard with future models. The Persona SV, for example, is enhanced with dual airbags, rear disc brakes, ABS, and EBD, whilst the Preve and Suprima S were both crowned with five-star ratings by the Australasian NCAP programme. A recent running change on the Preve sees all variants receive six airbags, stability control, and traction control as standard. For the Suprima S, these features were fitted standard from launch.
Moving forward, Proton plans to push on development of new models with a combination of its its own platforms and collaborative partnerships. The company currently is engaged in partnership with Honda, and the relationship has already resulted in the creation of a new Proton Perdana, which we all know to be a rebadged eighth generation Honda Accord.
UMW Toyota Motor also expressed a positive outlook of the NAP. Its President Datuk Ismet Suki said, “We are pleased that the government has provided a clearer view of specifications for EEV vehicles. UMW Toyota Motor will be reviewing our current as well as future model line-ups to meet the defined EEV specifications. We will continue to support the Government’s effort to make Malaysia as an EEV hub by introducing the Camry CKD Hybrid by the end of this year.”