MALAYSIANS are accustomed to thinking of the car workshop as a place that looks rundown, with oil stains on the floor, rusty vehicles all around and, yes, maybe even operating under a tree. But as the nation progresses, such business establishments will evolve towards a more efficient and cleaner setup.
There are about 13,000 privately-owned mechanical workshops, with about 5,000 spare part-and-accessory shops, 4,000 tyre retail shops and 1,500 original equipment manufacturer (OEM) owned workshops registered in Malaysia. The automotive service and repair industry is very dynamic, and ranges from workshops dedicated to specific vehicle brands to the small workshop in the rural areas servicing all types of vehicles.
As vehicle registration continued to increase year-on-year in tandem with the growing population, workforce and urbanisation, there’s opportunity for growth for the automotive service and repair industry which currently serviced about 14.8 million registered vehicles, said former Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek.
“Malaysian vehicle owners spend about estimated RM10.6bil every year on vehicle maintenance, and this is expected to grow 4% annually. This drives the government to further promote the importance of upgrading the players in the industry in order to improve the quality of service to ensure well-maintained vehicles and safety on the road,” he said.
The Automotive Workshop Modernisation (ATOM) project, which kicked off in 2011 as one of the projects for National Key Economic Area (NKEA) Wholesale & Retail under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), aims to modernise and transform three main aspects of the automotive workshops.
They are: improving service by switching to automated service, improving safety by upgrading the physical aspect of the workshop, and improving contact with customer through record management.
A soft loan of up to RM100,000 with a repayment term of 15 years at 3% interest is being made available by the government but disbursed through Bank Rakyat to these SMEs after appointed consultants complete their evaluation of their workshops.
Appointed consultants from the automotive sector will also assist in redesigning workshop layouts, planning of renovation and upgrading activities, and purchase of machinery and equipment, including point-of-sale system terminals, outlining standard operating procedures, hand-holding and training on entrepreneurship, automotive skills and inventory management.
“Once the loan has been approved, the consultant will give work order to the contractors or suppliers to start renovating and supplying equipment or stock as ordered.
“Once this is completed, Bank Rakyat will pay directly to the contractors or suppliers involved. This is to ensure that the loan is strictly used for the transformation process,” Hasan Malek said.
He said the government wanted to see the automotive industry continue to modernise through market forces as consumers became more educated and expect better quality service. – By LIM WING HOOI