If we look through the largest automotive and technology exhibitions in the world last year, trends clearly indicate that the automotive industry is slowly evolving into a subset of the grander notion of mobility.
Mobility can be a hazy construct. While it used to define the mode of transport from one point to another, global technology and lifestyle trends are converging to redefine the very meaning of the world.
While there may be many versions of this future, one thing is certain – mobility will change in its meaning, and the automotive industry is among the main enablers of this evolution.
These trends emerged as we began moving into the fourth industrial revolution.
Connectivity is now deep rooted in the devices we depend on – the mobile phone for example, has converged hundreds of separate devices into the palm of our hands – technology that as trends show, are moving into all appliances, including our vehicles.
This will cause our lifestyles to be integrated into our transport modes as much as it is integrated into our homes.
What we define as our current destinations will then become part of our journeys.
Imagine a world where a patient in need of dialysis no longer goes to the hospital for treatment, but the treatment hardware is part of his journey to a holiday destination.
The automotive industry is evolving into the mobility industry, and the supply chain will evolve beyond vehicle parts and components.
There will be broader demands for business and jobs – one that look at higher value manufacturing, and also those that supply the connective services of this integrated, smart transportation grid.
While this idea may seem further than we can foresee, these are the core ideas being discussed by analysts, industrialists and regulators today – and for that matter, have become key highlights of the technology news dominating our information space.
With that said, the government has already initiated our nation’s realignment.
To progress in the new technological world order, we’ve started thinking along a converged line. On a general level, the National Transformation 2050 programme (TN50) is placing its blueprint to envision a Malaysia that is in line with global trends for the next three decades.
As mobility and infrastructure will converge in the future, so must the ministries in the Malaysian government. In May last year, the cabinet tasked the International Trade and Industry Ministry, Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry and Higher Education Ministry to lead the formulation of a national policy framework on Industry 4.0, addressing the overarching need for digital infrastructures, human capital development, technology standards, funding and small and medium enterprise development.
National budgets have, for some time now, allocated funding for the development of Malaysia digital economy, such as the Digital Free Trade Zone (DTFZ).
The Malaysia Automotive Institute has embarked on programmes to enhance the capabilities of manufacturers and individual talents to work towards such an alignment with global trends.
However, national strategies must come with societal mobilisation – something possible only through connectivity of administrative policy with social mind-set.
We all have a part to play to bring the Malaysian economy to greater heights.
After all, national development is an inevitable responsibility of all Malaysias. It transcends cultural backgrounds, economic standing or political position. It is an agenda that all Malaysians should strive to fulfil.
To kick off the new year, let us commit to having meaningful discussions, ideas and dialogue that bring progress.
The policies, frameworks and implementation structures have been put in place – we are always ready to listen, guide and collaborate will all industry stakeholders towards achieving global competitiveness and upward social mobility.
Happy New Year!
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.