Look to niche market to succeed, makers of 3rd national car urged

The conventional car market will not help the proposed third national car, say economists.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s proposed third national car may have a fighting chance against global automotive giants if it is able to identify the right niche market, according to an economist.

Dr Zulkiply Omar said: “We can no longer compete with the current automotive technologies but we still have a chance when it comes to new ones as its still new to the world. Advance in that sector then we may certainly get the market.”

The senior research fellow at the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research, however, said the future of the industry was uncertain.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Kuala Lumpur International Automotive Conference 2018 (KLIAC), he said, for instance, with the government promoting the use of public transport, the purpose of a car might shift from a being a necessary mode of transportation to a recreational one.

“In that context, they must look at those elements. They need to identify a niche area where there will be demand and focus on that,” Zulkiply said.

He said the focus of the review of the national automotive policy (NAP), scheduled to be completed in early 2019, on electric and autonomous vehicles was a good move.

Zulkiply, one of the panellists at the KLIAC, had discussed the economic outlook of the automotive industry alongside fellow economist Yeah Kim Leng.

Yeah, who held views similar to Zulkiply on the proposed third national car, told reporters later that the conventional car was losing “flavour” and nearing its end.

The professor of economics at Sunway University Business School said the third national car had to be “future-proof” and crafted to recognise the changes in the socio-economic and ecological environment landscape.

“It should incorporate all of the most advanced features available to maintain its competitive advantage, given the rapid change of car technology.

“It has to be futuristic as we already have two national cars catering to the conventional market and capturing that space,” he said.

The KLIAC was organised by the Malaysian Automotive Association and Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (Asli).