KEEPING MOBILE

Malaysia 2017 | INDUSTRY & HIGH TECHNOLOGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dato' Madani Sahari, CEO of Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI), on creating the optimum environment for energy efficient vehicles, developing the human capacity to bring this industry to Malaysia, and the potential the automotive industry has for Malaysia and the wider region.

 Dato’ Madani Sahari
BIOGRAPHY
Dato’ Madani Sahari has more than 12 years of experience in manufacturing and service industries in the automotive sector, with national and international automotive manufacturers such as Proton, Perodua, Honda, Toyota, Renault, Hyundai, Nissan, and General Motors in the areas of strategic collaboration, project development and manufacturing. He is the CEO of the Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI), which oversees the development of the Malaysian automotive industry in all matters. He graduated from the University of Lorraine (formerly Nancy-Université), France, with a degree in industrial technology and is also a Certified Quality Engineer.

What was behind the decision to open up the automotive industry?

We had a clear vision to become the hub for energy efficient vehicles (EEV), a concept that covers the entirety of green technologies. EEV has two main preconditions: its fuel-efficiency and its carbon emissions should be up to standards. It is up to the manufacturers to decide on the type of technology so long as the end result meets these requirements. To reach our ambition to become an EEV hub, we need to develop the supply chain, human capital, and technology and innovation infrastructure. We encourage our manufacturers to produce at the set standards of fuel efficiency and carbon emission. When we outlined our EEV policy, we developed six roadmaps to guide this into practice, three of which are for the supply chain, technology development, and re-manufacturing. The latter is a global trend: to work with components that can be remanufactured. Other developed nations have a “road worthiness test," which is pivotal. If a car is deemed non-roadworthy, it can become raw material for re-manufacturing, which is another important objective of the EVV policy. The concept is no longer cradle to grave; it is cradle to cradle. Components can be recycled, reconditioned, or re-manufactured.

What initiatives do you have for helping to develop human capital?

We work with universities and training institutions to implement our human capital development roadmap, especially in terms of skill development for engineers. The objective is to bridge academia and the requirements of the industry, for example by introducing apprenticeships and implementing elements of EEV in new training modules. MAI plays a coordinating role to develop these modules with universities and centers of excellence while the OEMs trademark them. Demand for training is much higher than we can currently cater to, and we seek to expand on our partnerships. In Bukit Beruntung, we have turned an old factory into a job-training classroom, where we can provide a unique hands-on learning experience. In the last three years, we have trained close to 27,000 new engineers for the automotive industry and have committed ourselves to producing 25,000 every year until 2020.

What are your expectations from the AEC, and how do you cooperate with similar institutes in other states?

The auto industry can be a polluting industry, both the production and process and the vehicle itself. Malaysia understands that while investment is important, sustainable development is what we need. For the sake of employment, we cannot just sacrifice the conservation and preservation aspect of the environment. With the achievements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we can utilize big data management and the Internet of Things (IoT) for these environmental purposes. Our Malaysian-Australian FTA has good conditions, we can leverage its expertise there, and it can use Malaysia as its gateway into ASEAN. Australia is facing challenges in its competiveness, and we have the market but need a quantum leap in technology. Partnering with Australian firms helps us with this on the human capital, supply chain, and technology side. We focus on sustainable automotive design by means of big data analyses and implementation into practical solutions.

What is the future of the automotive industry?

The latest roadmap takes us to 2050 and includes autonomous cars. Evolution like this is the work of suppliers, rather than manufacturers, and we should keep an eye on what electronic companies such as Bosch, Delphi, and Denso are doing, especially in the field of autonomous driving. Current technology is sensitive and mature enough to function independently and recognize roads and road signs. However, before these vehicles take to the roads, other aspects of infrastructure should be taken care of. Regulations for road design should become global, for example, and these are nonexistent at the moment. Mobility will change and the notion of getting around by car will change. Perhaps we will no longer call it the automotive industry but the mobility industry.