Malaysia focusing on connected mobility

Updated: Jun 23

This article was taken from Automotive Industries magazine. Find the original article here: www.ai-online.com



There was a 1.2% growth in total production volume (+6,661 units) compared to 2018. Passenger vehicle assembly grew by 2.6% year-on-year. Contributing 4.2% to Malaysia’s total gross domestic product (GDP), the country’s automotive industry includes 27 vehicle producers and over 640 component manufacturers. The Malaysian automotive industry is the third-largest in Southeast Asia, and the 25th largest in the world, with an annual production output of over 500,000 vehicles.


Automotive Industries (AI) asked Datuk Madani Sahari, the CEO of the Malaysia Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii), previously known as the Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI), what role the Institute is playing in establishing Malaysia as an automotive hub.


Sahari: MARii, an agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), is the think-tank and the focal point for the development of connected mobility in the automotive industry. It is one of the implementing agencies under MITI, whose core focus is to elevate Malaysia’s competitiveness among top global trading nations, and to develop and implement policies on industrial development, international trade and investment.


In 2014, MITI launched the National Automotive Policy (NAP) 2014, which focused on establishing Malaysia as an energy-efficient vehicles (EEV) hub within South East Asia. The launch of NAP 2020 on 21st February addressed the transformation and the progression of the Malaysian automotive industry into connected mobility, which is driven by the three thrusts of next-generation vehicles (NxGVs), Industrial Revolution 4.0 and Mobility as a Service.


Within this policy, the establishment of an automated, autonomous and connected vehicle (AACV) testbed in Cyberjaya will be key. This will consist of an electric vehicle interoperability center (EVIC), autonomous vehicle test bed (AVTB), and an emission testing center for motorcycles.


These initiatives will be further supplemented by current centers of excellence such as MARii Design Centre, MARii Academy of Technology, and National Emission Test Centre (NETC), which are home to various programs and initiatives to spur new business models related to future mobility and produce talents that are Industry 4.0 compliant. With all that I have mentioned, I believe Malaysia has begun the journey towards establishing itself as a new-generation.


AI: What are the features in the National Automotive Policy that put Malaysia on the path to become a destination for automotive OEMs?


Sahari: NAP 2014 placed importance on the local production of EEVs, which indirectly created opportunities for Malaysians to participate in high skill, value-added jobs and businesses through its programs dedicated to enhancing technology development and adoption, supply chain, human capital development (HCD) and remanufacturing.

The focus on EEVs saw an increase of interest from consumers towards energy-efficient products. The increased demand led to the development of required infrastructures for the EEV ecosystem such as charging stations across the nation. With that, we expect to see a rise in EEV penetration for 2020, compared to what was achieved in 2019.


The NAP 2020 is formulated to drive the development of ecosystems for NxGVs, Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), and Industry 4.0 technologies while continuing its focus on enhancing the development of EEVs. I am confident that these initiatives will further propel the Malaysian automotive industry towards being a global destination for OEMs.


AI: What role does MARii play in meeting the targets of the NAP?


Sahari: MARii serves as the focal point, coordinating center and think tank towards enhancing the competitiveness of the automotive industry and overall mobility, including intelligent transportation system & related services through the adoption of robotics and IoT.


We work closely with the government and industry stakeholders to enhance the performance, capabilities, and development of the Malaysian automotive scene. MARii also organizes a plethora of programs and initiatives designed for industry players, future workforce and automotive businesses to improve their capabilities through modules ranging from skills-based training in various areas such as vehicle design and manufacturing to technology adoption and business management workshops.


In order to accelerate the implementation of future mobility technologies, various programs have been developed, such as the MARii MaaS Scale Up Program, which aims to facilitate the adoption of MaaS-related technologies and services into the domestic mobility industry to enhance the e-commerce ecosystem, improve the performances of both the mobility and e-commerce sectors. It is also important to ensure the public remains well-informed about the government’s initiatives and this is where MARii comes in as a linkage between the public and the government, through automotive events, and as a platform to familiarize and enhance consumer awareness on the latest technologies and services the automotive industry has to offer.


AI: What type of research and development is MARii responsible for?


Sahari: In 2015, MARii initiated collaborations with technology organizations in Australia on the development of an electric bus prototype (e-bus), to spur localization of electric vehicle systems, parts, and components. So far, the project has reached its final stages of R&D and will soon be ready for commercialization. There have also been several privately driven initiatives to develop EVs in selected testbeds around Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.


MARii has also established three centers of excellence (COE) – MARii Design Centre, MARii Academy of Technology, and National Emission Test Centre (NETC), home to an array of programs developed by MARii, its technology partners and the government, covering a diverse range of topics such as design engineering and prototyping, computer-aided engineering (CAE) and additive manufacturing. The COEs are also equipped with technologies that are compliant with Industry 4.0 capabilities such as supercomputing, simulation, and augmented reality.


AI: How are your programs designed to meet the requirements of future vehicle manufacturing?


Sahari: MARii’s strategy has always been enabling easier access to advanced technologies in order to spur technology adoption for industry players. We believe this is one of the key penetration methods towards normalizing Industry 4.0 technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data Analytics (BDA) and robotics. MARii’s programs are designed in line with the nine thrusts in the implementation of Industry 4.0 – IoT, BDA, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, Simulation, System Integration, Autonomous Robots, Additive Manufacturing and Augmented Reality (AR), smoothing the transition towards future mobility.


For example, MARii recently launched the MARii Industry4WRD Technology Platform (MITP), a one-stop advanced production management solution that offers a variety of services not limited to production planning, resource management, and data collection in a single, integrated cloud-based solution. The availability of these programs will provide ample job opportunities for the industry but, more importantly, it allows participants to expose themselves to the latest technological advancements, processes, and practices within related fields.


AI: What are some of the works in progress to develop NxGVs in Malaysia?


Sahari: In developing local capabilities in new powertrains, the government is planning the development of an Electric Vehicle Interoperability Centre (EVIC) – a shared test center for the development of EVs and EV-related products and systems. The EVIC will be able to test various advanced technologies such as cybersecurity and communication safety in an EV ecosystem, utilizing BDA and IoT to allow real-time reporting and accurate decision making throughout the ecosystem.


The EVIC will also feature an EV testbed, equipped with data-driven, smart grid integration solutions that allow for measurement and oversight of the entire chain of electromobility, from the point energy is produced to the point where energy is consumed in the EV. An Autonomous Vehicle Test Bed (AVTB), for all businesses in the mobility ecosystem to collectively design and validate their products in a single location, is also currently in the works.


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