Rev up exports of Malaysian cars, says industry analyst

The Proton X70 retains its position as the best-selling C-segment SUV in the country. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Automotive industry analyst Hezeri Samsuri has criticised Malaysia’s emphasis on selling cars in the local market at the expense of a deep penetration of international markets.

Speaking to FMT, he said such an approach did not justify the large investments the government had expended to develop national cars.

He called for a strategy shift towards penetrating international markets in the same manner that the Japanese have been introducing their cars to the world.

If the country was keen to develop a solid automotive industry, he said, there was no better way than to rev up the export of Malaysian-made cars.

Hezeri Samsuri

“So long as the government insists on using TIV (total industry volume) as a yardstick, our automotive industry will remain just a local champion, which is very much to meet the KPI (key performance indicators) of government officers,” he said.

He noted that even a developed country like Japan had kept its focus on exporting cars instead of relying solely on its domestic market.

“Sales of Toyota cars outside of Japan far exceed the domestic sales,” he said. “Even China and the US, with domestic car sales touching 10 million annually, are still actively producing cars for export.”

Domestic vehicle sales in Malaysia range from 500,000 to 650,000 units a year, a volume that is considered low if compared to other Asean countries.

Entrepreneur Development and Co-operatives Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told the Dewan Rakayat on Wednesday that the government policy related to the automotive industry, especially in regard to the special treatment given to Proton, had been a stumbling block to the development of the industry.

He said the policy should be reviewed because the special treatment of Proton had caused big industry players to shift their attention to neighbouring countries.

Hezeri disputed Wan Junaidi’s statement, saying many international car brands were still exporting their products from Malaysia to countries in the Asean region.

“It is not accurate to say that the National Automotive Policy is a policy that resulted in international automotive manufacturers shifting their operations outside of Malaysia,” he said.

“In fact, not even one company has shifted out its operations.

“As it is, Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Volvo, Peugeot, Kia, Hyundai, Renault, Subaru, Haval and a few other marques are still doing complete knock-down installations in the country.”

With regard to the special privilege accorded to Proton, Hezeri said when this was introduced, the government did raise the excise duty on foreign car marques to enable the national car to compete efficiently in the marketplace.

However, he added, it apparently became difficult to control the influx of external products given the inking of trade accords with various countries.