Affordability is a key issue, government told

PETALING JAYA: Car owners and salesmen say that action plans are needed to drive the National Automotive Policy (NAP) forward, especially on the aspect of affordability.

While many lauded the government’s focus on technologically advanced cars and mobility services, they said financial incentives would be important to promote the use of such products.

Car salesperson Evelyn Lee said Malaysians were interested in purchasing electric, hybrid or energy-efficient cars, but they must be sold at the right price point.

“There is a number of consumers who are looking at electric and hybrid cars.

“However, the incentives must be there, or else the prices of such cars will be very high, ” she said when contacted.

Consumer interest in such cars fell, she said, when excise duty exemption for foreign hybrid and electric cars ended in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

Only locally assembled or completely-knocked-down hybrid and electric cars were given the exemption.

Lee added that another factor hindering the growth of the hybrid and electric car industry was its lacklustre secondhand market.

“The high cost of the hybrid car battery replacement affects its resale value.

“If more hybrid cars are in the market, car owners can feel confident in selling the cars as there may be better margins, ” she said.

Further research and development, she said, was also needed to adapt such car batteries to the tropical weather in Malaysia so that more people would find such vehicles reliable in the long run.

Daniel Lee, a car enthusiast, said he would consider purchasing and using hybrid or energy-efficient vehicles, if incentives were in place.

“Affordability, quality and maintenance costs are essential when considering what car to use.

“I want a car that will do its job, is reliable, has access to good workshops that will service it – and bonus points if it is environment-friendly.

“For now, it appears to me that electric cars are fairly expensive. I am not paying for environmentally friendly cars unless they are about the same price, ” said the 31-year-old who had previously worked in the automotive industry.

The sales manager said the government would need to engage with stakeholders of the automotive industry to see how the policy could be worked out in reality.

He added that it was good that the government was focusing on moving away from car ownership to transportation services, such as e-hailing services and public transport.

“I don’t mind relying more on such services. I have been using Grab for a while, and I like it.

“However, it is the largest player in the market and as such, prices have been going up, ” he said.

Chok Jia Jun, 24, said the policies unveiled by the government would be important in enhancing the production quality of local cars.

“This is the direction that Malaysia should have taken years ago, as we are still far behind globally renowned brands, ” said the student, who is also a car enthusiast.

It was good, he said, that the government was making it a key point to have all industry players work together in high value-added activities.

He added however that improving the price and safety aspects of a vehicle would still be essential in accelerating the local car industry.

“The aspects that should be considered would be the reliability of the vehicle in the long run, as well as the comfort and safety it provides to the driver and passengers.

“The price should also be adjusted according to the average income of Malaysians to make it more affordable, ” he said.

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