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There were no auto related matters mentioned in the last two Budgets tabled by the Prime Minister, and the revised National Automotive Policy is long overdue to be announced. This time though, we seem to have specific dates to look forward to.

The government is expected to announce the revised NAP between January 10-15, 2014, Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said yesterday at the Kuala Lumpur International Automotive Conference. The policy is currently in the final stage of drafting and the Cabinet is expected to approve it by year end.

The NAP will focus on ‘energy efficient vehicles’. In the first place, what energy efficient vehicles are have to be defined. The most significant part of the last NAP announcements have been the hybrid car tax exemptions – 100% import and excise duty exemption have made a significant impact to the prices of such cars, but were limited to cars with combustion engines of under 2.0 litres of displacement.

The end result of all that is that only a single hybrid car is currently being locally assembled in Malaysia – the Honda Jazz Hybrid. We expect more to be added to this list, such as the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Nissan Serena S-Hybrid, but should the term energy efficient really be limited to hybrid cars alone?

Instead of dictating the technology so specifically, why not just set a kilometre per litre goal for each segment and let the car companies decide what technology to use to achieve that? Incidentally, the mid-January timeframe for the NAP announcement means that the current tax incentive programme for hybrids/EVs is set to run its course on December 31.