We think a third national car company will do the local industry some good.
When Nissan and Toyota were the only ones building cars in Japan way back in the 1920s, we wondered whether some Japanese people thought that two national car brands were enough? If they did, then surely we would not see the likes of our beloved Honda, Isuzu, Subaru and Mazda rise up to be what they are now - so, the question is, are two national car brands really enough?
Well, according to Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president Datuk Aishah Ahmad, yes!! Two is enough. This is in relation to what she said at a press conference where they were discussing the automotive industry's first-half performance.
The Edge reported that Aminah had the sentiment that Malaysia does not need a third national car. "From the industry's standpoint, we already have two national cars — that's already too many. To have a third national car? I don't think we need it," said the MAA president.
We know some agree with her assessment, while some do not, but in our opinion, more competition only leads to better cars and better pricing, especially when it comes down to it being a local battle. If you look at it from the standpoint of profiteering yes this is a bad idea, but as an industry-building project and national car betterment, we are all for it.
If the third national car project surrounds itself with future tech (EEV or EV), even better because it will surely push Proton and Perodua to do the same thing. Yes, there is a lot of cost in starting a vehicle brand, but this time around, it seems that the project will be mostly private, so no wasting of taxpayers money. Yes, there have been talks about Perodua coming in to support them, but there has been no concrete evidence of that yet.
Also, one other point to ponder is this, if the third national car programme is wholly Malaysian owned, is that not a source of national pride? Yes, one can argue that Proton and Perodua are Malaysian companies but both have huge influence and ownership from Geely and Daihatsu respectively. Or is it a moot point? Is national pride no longer something to aspire for? A notion for romantic hacks with very little real world benefits? Tepuk dada, tanya selera.
At the same press conference, Aminah also said that every car company in Malaysia should be paying the same amount of duties to make it a level playing field. “We have highlighted many times to the government that duties on automobiles in Malaysia are very high and that they should relook at this, but it always falls on deaf ears,” she said.
Okay, we have to agree with Aminah on this one because right now all's fair in love and war. If we were to have a level playing field, only then can we truly give the people what they want. Right now, Malaysians are purchasing cars based on what is economically viable for them, but we bet if all duties are the same for everyone, the choices would be different. Aminah's comments are quite brave because if it was a level playing field, it means that a couple of car manufacturers would not be as attractive as they once were. But then again, just like in chess, to get better, you have to play against a better opponent.
Will we ever get to see a level playing field when it comes to duty? Should Malaysia have a third national car? Let us know, we want to hear what you think.