KUALA LUMPUR: The automotive sector is a strategic economic sector, and dedication to developing the sector is important as it has the potential to make Malaysia an automotive hub for the Asean region.

Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, said at the Malay Vehicle Importers and Dealers Association of Malaysia’s (Pekema) 42nd annual general meeting that the association’s commitment to forming a high-value growth ecosystem is greatly appreciated.

“In a world that is changing towards more sustainable practices, opportunities for growth are expanding rapidly, especially in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency and support services for electric vehicles (EVs).

“Pekema’s commitment to innovation and sustainability has been proven via its proactive actions in advancing electric mobility,“ he said.

Tengku Zafrul said the government welcomes Pekema’s efforts to cooperate with China’s EV company, Dongfeng Motor, to bring in the first EV model with right-hand drive in the middle of next year, and with two more EV companies from China.

He said open approved permit (AP) companies could play an important role in boosting the demand and sales of EVs in Malaysia.

Based on the Investment, Trade and Industry Ministry’s (MITI) data, the number of EVs with approved APs by MITI and imported by open AP companies from 2020 until October 2023 comprised 729 units.

This figure consisted of 533 new EV units and 196 used EV units, representing only 0.23 per cent of the total number of vehicles imported by open AP companies during the period.

Tengku Zafrul also called on Pekema members to take advantage of the improvement in the guidelines for the appointment of new franchise AP companies for EVs.

He said the equivalent engine capacity above 1,800 cubic capacity (cc) for cars and above 250 cc for motorcycles is given a temporary exemption for fully-imported EV vehicles in completely built-up (CBU) form until Dec 31, 2025.

“So, there is actually still a lot of room for Pekema members to increase the acceptance of EV vehicles in our country,“ he explained.

Commenting on AP as often being the focus of discussion in the media, he said the government is aware that there is a difference of opinion on the need for AP.

Although some parties think that the AP elimination would encourage healthy competition, we should also consider supporting Bumiputera automotive industry players, he said.

Thus, in an effort to promote the growth of the automotive industry in an inclusive manner, the government encourages Bumiputera entrepreneurs to get involved in the automotive supply chain.

“I would like to emphasise that the government has no plans currently to abolish the import permit (AP) system for CBU vehicles and exemption from import duties for electric vehicles.

“Any change in policy will of course take into account the views of stakeholders to ensure that the interests of all parties are protected,“ he said.

He also said the government is planning to organise a Bumiputera economic congress in January next year to chart a new path for the Bumiputera agenda, which is fairer, more equitable and more inclusive.

“This latest effort aims to empower more small to medium Bumiputera entrepreneurs and businesses.

“In line with this, AP holders should consider using existing financing programmes designed for Bumiputera automotive entrepreneurs to expand and diversify their businesses,“ he added. - Bernama

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