Policy-making for cars of the future

According to the CEO of Malaysia Automotive Institute, Datuk Madani Sahari, the automotive industry is one of the mega sectors, and it is called such because it connects hardware, with software, manufacturing and services.

If we were to follow this train for thought, and think about the National Automotive Policy 2018, or the New Policy which is yet to be introduced, this sector and all the industries that are being developed or have yet to be developed along with it, should be taken into consideration.

Madani had said, technologies developed in automotive, can be emulated in other sectors, quite easily. This could be the rationale behind a third national car, which the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) is spearheading, and which has already received over 20 proposals from various vendors and stakeholders in the industry.

But back to a national policy for the automotive industry – when you talk about a car of the future, it’s not just about the product but also the services around it.

Madani pointed out, “Grab is a service and it is based on the existing architecture of present cars.”

So imagine when cars of the future transform to become smarter and intelligent vehicles. Imagine the different categories and levels of services that people can create out of that intelligent vehicle which actually has already become an intelligent platform.

Madani proposed that we can start to think about the experience that we have while we are in this vehicle, that can add value to our lives. “If there are such offerings that can enhance our experiences and our lives, in a car, that will be a service to be provided!”

“This is what the policy has to do to prepare Malaysians, to become the service provider or the consumer of these services,” he said.

The New Policy

There is a new automotive policy (NAP) that is slated to be out by first quarter of next year, after final consultation with the industry, stakeholders, and even agencies that oversee regulation of enabling technologies like 5G.

Madani described, “The Policy we are working on now, is something overarching that looks beyond 2025.”

Whatever technology or capability that car brands design is based on their research of market demand.  “A policy is just a framework for when such a technology is mass produced and made available to the public. It ensures that there is governance.”

And this governance includes regulation, legal framework, talent, competency and the right foundation to ensure the particular tech can grow.

He also emphasised, “It’s not policy that will be aligned with any car. It’s cars which have to be aligned with policy.”

Immediate future

There is an estimation of less than 100 electric vehicles within Malaysia currently. But, when the time comes, will our power grid have the capacity to serve a mass entry of EVs into Malaysia?

In view of this, Madani said, “We need to have an EV testbed.”

This is to understand the impact of mass clusters of EVs charging up from our power grid, Madani stated, adding that some EV protocols also allow EVs to send energy back.

“How will this impact our power grid?”

We also need to see whether the energy supply needed for these EVs is well within the buffer allocated by Tenaga Nasional, he had said.

“We need to do this quickly given our drive towards electric vehicles and making it commercially viable.”

The MAI CEO opined that the new policy doesn’t just look at products and innovativeness of product. “It’s also about creation of new businesses and smart services.

“It’s more holistic than being just about a Proton, or a Honda or a Perodua.”