KUALA LUMPUR: The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) is looking to capitalize on the potential of the growing recreational vehicle (RV) industry to boost the region, and subsequently the nation's economy.
Speaking at the RV Vehicle Type Approval (VTA) certificate handover to Knaus Tabbert AG, MITI deputy secretary general Datuk Sri Norazman Ayob said his ministry is working closely with the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and ECERDC to attract high quality investments such as that of the RV industry into Malaysia as investments provide the impetus towards achieving robust and sustainable growth for the nation.
While no exact figures were divulged, the RV industry's multi-tiered expansion as a whole is said to have the potential to bring in billions of ringgit worth of investments and that MITI is looking forward in welcoming and facilitating more investments to grow the RV industry in the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) and across the country.
It is indicated that the move will take place as early as H1 2023 and that Pahang might also be the hub for the RVs to be locally made (CKD) though no further details were given.
"We are thankful to the German investors for choosing Malaysia as your ideal investment destination to establish the RV industry. It is our endeavor to position Malaysia as the preferred investment destination especially for German investors like KnausTabbert AG and help turn Malaysia into the RV hub for Asean and the Asia Pacific markets," said Norazman.
"As with other industries, the growth of the RV industry will stimulate the local economies through its spillover effects. These will not only create job and business opportunities for the locals, but more importantly they help regional economies to flourish hence narrow the developmental gaps especially between developed and less developed regions in Malaysia.
"Investment is not the only dimension to the RV industry. The other important dimension is RV tourism. In fact, RV tourism will be critical to sustain the whole industry ecosystem over time. I look forward to the establishment of high standard RV parks which will make the new RV lifestyle become more popular in the country and for industry to flourish in the near future.
Expressed his optimism on the growth potential of the RV industry in Malaysia, Knaus Tabbert AG chief executive officer Wolfgang Speck says the company looks forward in working together with ECERDC to set up RV manufacturing facility in the ECER region.
"The demand for recreational vehicle (RV) industry has shown a significant increase globally and this market is projected to grow into a potential multibillion-dollar industry in Malaysia in the next five to ten years. Malaysia, which has FTAs with China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand has a huge potential to become a caravan hub for the Asia Pacific region. The RV industry is still in its infancy in Malaysia compared to Australia, where the industry is estimated to worth US$11 billion dollars for a country with 26 million people.
"We also look forward to work with Malaysian companies for dealership opportunities and opening more caravan parks in the country to encourage Malaysians to embrace this new lifestyle and take full advantage of the country's beautiful landscape.
"The emerging RV lifestyle as mobile hotels generally used for short-term outdoor camping and tourism activities for travel enthusiasts is currently trending. RVs are largely self sufficient as they are equipped with sleeping, cooking and sanitary facilities which allow for family-bonding, offering a unique travel experience amidst nature," he added.
Knaus Tabbert AG recently received VTA certificates for its Sudwind 500FU and KWE-Sport 500 Q by the Road Transport Department (RTD). The VTA approval for road worthiness will allow for the authorised sales and distribution channel of new caravans under its own category, thus easing its financing and insuring requirements.
RTD director general Datuk Zailani Haji Hashim said the department is committed to assist ECERDC and automotive investors in the governance and administration of the RV industry in a systematic, reliable and innovative manner, as the authority in charge of establishing and regulating the registration and licensing of motor vehicles.
"This is to ensure the industry's safety and mitigate the risk of accidents while at the same time, propel a high-quality industry with safety in mind," he said.
"The government through MITI and ECERDC have taken the initiative to establish a Recreational Vehicle Industry Development Working Committee (RV) -which has discussed and taken a few initiatives to enhance and empowering the use of RV as well as its supporting infrastructure though out Malaysia.
"The two main focuses (of the committee) that are being refined involves the Industry Development and RV Vehicle Regulation cluster as well as the RV Tourism Development cluster.
RTD to update VTA guidelines for RV
As one of the initiatives to further assist the local RV ecosystem, Zailani says the department is updating the existing VTA guidelines by amending the existing three RV categories to five new categories to align with market requirements.
Among the RV criteria updated into the VTA Guidelines are caravan, motorhome, campervan, campertruck, and camperbus. More details are said to be released soon.
"Additionally, the Transport Ministry (MoT) and RTD have also looked at several matters involving the licensing of RV vehicles to be registered as commercial vehicles as well as several other initiatives that have been discussed at the RV Ecosystem Development Committee meeting.
"Based on our records there are a total of 742 RV vehicles have been registered and been driven on local roads as of today. This includes: 500 caravan, 115 motorhome, and 67 trailer-caravan.
"However, most of these vehicles are vehicles that have been modified from existing body types such as pick-up trucks, vans, lorries to RV vehicles. In addition, there are also used RV models imported from abroad for use in this country. Therefore, I am pleased to inform you that these two models of RV manufactured by Knaus are the first RV that have gone through the VTA procedure in full and are therefore eligible to obtain a VTA certificate in Malaysia," he added.
Push for RV industry development
Since 2021, the ECERDC has been spearheading the RV industry development and had facilitated the visit by delegation from Caravaning Verband e.V. (CIVD), which represents German RV players when they visited the ECER in February.
The delegation's purpose at the time was to explore investment and business opportunities in the RV Industry as well as to identify potential locations to develop RV parks in the ECER.
The council during a return visit and investment mission in June signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with CIVD in Frankfurt to formalise the collaboration.
A second investment mission in August also had the council sign a Memorandum of Collaboration with Knaus Campingparks to develop RV camping parks and introduce a new lifestyle experience to Malaysians.
"The latest VTA approval for RV to Knaus Tabbert AG by the RTD marks a new milestone for ECERDC as it will attract more investments into this sector and spur the RV industry in Malaysia.
"This will eventually bring in the supply chain for the production of RV parts in the future and create employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the locals especially in the ECER region," said ECERDC chief executive officer Datuk Baidzawi Che Mat.
CIVD managing director Daniel Onggowinarso added that the VTA approval will aid both parties' initiatives to establish ECER as the RV hub and put Malaysia on the map for RV enthusiasts.
"This is part of our collaboration initiative with ECERDC in bringing German RV players to Malaysia to grow the RV industry and expand opportunities in the Asia Pacific market," he said.