Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad launches the Proton Iriz Facelift during the 2019 Malaysia Autoshow in Serdang. Looking on are Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking and Malaysia Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) chief executive officer Datuk Madani Sahari. - NSTP/ASYRAF HAMZAH

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reiterated today that the third national car and the automotive industry are crucial to the country.

Speaking at the opening of the 2019 Malaysia Autoshow, Dr Mahathir said that in 2018, based on statistics from the Malaysia Automotive Association (MAA), Malaysia exported vehicles worth RM2 billion, while the automotive components exported amounted to RM12 billion.

"598,714 vehicles were sold, representing a 3.8 per cent growth from the year before," he said.

"Based on this, it is obvious that the automotive industry is an industry that is important to the country, including the development of an entire ecosystem for the automotive sector," he added.

Dr Mahathir said the approach taken would be based on high technology, with a focus on strategic investments in the development of a local supply chain and more innovative business opportunities.

"The plan for the development of the auto industry is based on acclimatising Malaysia with sophisticated future technologies and to make us an industrial country that is systematic," said Dr Mahathir.

The automotive sector can generate spin-offs for the entire Malaysian economy so that it can be calibrated with global developments.

"In Malaysia, there are 27 manufacturers, comprising national and international brands," he said.

He added that there are more than 700 vendors, 53,000 distributors, sellers and service centres as well as more than 700,000 individuals working in the automotive and mobility sector.

"I am confident that Malaysia's goal to create a new national brand is important and this will accelerate the development of the automotive industry in Malaysia.

"This project is expected to create new technology clusters as well as new skilled experts," he added.

He also said that the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) was in the midst of reformulating the National Automotive Policy.

The new policy would include the entire automotive ecosystem and would include Next Generation Vehicles (NXGV), Mobility as a Services (MaaS) and the Industrial Revolution 4.0 as well as Artificial Intelligence (AI).

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