Car owners across Malaysia went through a brief period of scare this month when the government once again brought up the topic of a Vehicle End of Life Policy.

This time, the lifespan being bandied about was 12 years. Given that a lot of the lower income group tend to take 9 year loans to buy their cars, this would mean an additional loan free period of only 3 years before their cars have to be scrapped.

There can be many reasons why the government could want to implement such a scheme. We think it’s to boost a stagnating Total Industry Volume, which basically means how many vehicles are sold every year. More car sales also means more excise duty, import duty and other taxes collected, which will boost government income.


Many less infuriating reasons can be given. The official reasoning thrown about this time is safety, and government agency MIROS attempted to prove a point by crash testing a 1990 Proton Saga and showing us the devastating results.

Nevermind that crash testing a car that’s nearly double the age of the proposed 12 year lifespan doesn’t really do anything to reinforce the proposed tenure. And if you want to talk about crash safety technology period, since the original Proton Saga was based on the 1983 Mitsubishi Lancer Fiore, we are talking about engineering that’s about 30 years old now.

The reasoning is flawed because of how old models tend to be sold here in Malaysia for prolonged periods. Here are some of the cars launched in 2002, which by now would have had to be scrapped if a 12 year lifespan cap was imposed.


Yes sir, apparently your 2002 Volvo XC90 is unsafe compared to a 2013 Perodua Myvi.

And then there’s also the problem of differing standards used to build cars around the world. What if I tell you that for the longest time, certain cars (especially models that are ASEAN specific) that were sold here had less crash safety structures than the same models sold elsewhere?

The government has done good (although some would strongly argue the implementation timeline was botched) to introduce the UN ECE R94 front impact crash safety and UN ECE R95 side impact crash safety specs as a requirement – suddenly items like side impact protection beams that were missing in our Malaysian spec cars got reintroduced. But there are really a lot of death traps on the road disguised as shiny new cars of less than 5 years old.

Thankfully the government has seemed to have backed down once again from the proposal. Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi announced yesterday in the Parliament that the government had no plans as of now to impose a lifespan cap on cars because it did not want to burden the public.

If the government wants to make sure we are all travelling in safer cars, they should start by introducing mandatory periodical safety inspections instead. And the authority performing these safety inspections ideally should not be a monopoly. If we have to live with a crappy safety shell at least we should make sure that the car is moving with good brakes and tyres with plenty of thread.


MAI has clarified that the ELV proposal does not involve scrapping but some kind of inspection process which if a vehicle fails, requires it to be sent for repairs and retested before it is allowed on the road again. Such a policy could still be announced in January 2014 together with the NAP review as it does not contradict what the deputy minister has said about not implementing a scrapping policy.

As you know, the public transportation system really has issues in Malaysia. The proposed rail systems are also very Klang Valley centric – what of the rest of the country? When I was going to college in Pusat Bandar Damansara, a journey from my home in Cheras that would take about 35 minutes by car took me about 2 to 2 and a half hours by public transport. On a student budget, any car would have had been welcome.

After that, I spent the first year of my working life as a pillion rider on the back of a pretty old Kawasaki KIPS motorcycle, avoiding ignorant drivers, dealing with the rain, punctured tyres, and reaching clients’ offices smelling exhaust smoke. Wiping my face with a wet tissue at the end of the day would turn the tissue black. At that point, any car would have been welcome.

My transportation situation is quite different now but there are many Malaysians who do what I used to do on a daily basis. There is a huge amount of people who are not what everyone considers middle class. Middle class is not the majority and I have to say that anyone proposing a 12 year vehicle lifespan is just ignorant of what is actually going on with a lot of Malaysians. Most Malaysians are not a bunch of people who can afford to buy a brand new Perodua Viva when they go to college or start off as a fresh grad.

Are you driving a really old car now because you do not have any other choice? Having the means to buy a new car but choosing to drive an old one instead doesn’t count. I’m looking for stories where you have to drive a 20 to 30 year old car or even ride a motorcycle because you absolutely have no choice. Please share your story in the comments.