Earlier in the week, the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) revealed the total industry volume (TIV) for 2016, which saw the first downturn in auto sales numbers after six consecutive years of growth. Registrations for the year totalled 580,124 units, a drop of 13% from the previous year.

The association added that with a softening consumer sentiment, sluggish economy and poorly performing ringgit, 2017 is set to be another challenging year, and this is reflected in its conservative forecast of 590,000 units for this year.

The Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI), however, believes that a holistic growth of the automotive industry will continue in 2017, despite the challenging economic climate.

This, it said, was based on the industry’s performance on the whole in 2016. Sales may have slowed, but the automotive sector saw increased employment and EEV penetration, as well as improved export numbers of parts and component compared to 2015, which has led it to believe that it’s not all doom and gloom in the coming future.

Revealing the figures at its state of the automotive industry in 2016 presentation yesterday, the institute said that in the manufacturing sector alone, 25,850 jobs were created in 2016, an increase of 8.7% from 2015.

Of these, 10,130 were created through MAI’s Human Capital Development (HCD) programmes such as the Automotive Industry Certification Engineering (AICE), and Industry-Led Professional Certificate (IPC). In 2017, the number of manufacturing jobs is set to climb to 27,000.

Meanwhile, in the after-sales sector, 24,671 jobs were created last year compared to 15,297 in 2015. This year, MAI expects that a further 25,000 jobs will be added to the segment.

It added that the climbing export numbers of CBUs from Malaysia was encouraging. In 2015, 27,792 units of CBU vehicles were exported, and the half-year figures in 2016, which totalled 15,603 units up to June 2016, should have the final figure reaching its target of 30,000 export units for the year (the second half figures are still being tallied).

In 2017, CBU exports from the country are expected to increase marginally, to 31,000 units. This figure is expected to continue to rise to 150,000 units annually by 2020.

The institute said that so far, 122,610 units have been committed by eight manufacturers to be exported in 2020, and discussions are in progress with three other automakers to fill up the remaining numbers to achieve the 150k target.

Elsewhere, MAI said exports of automotive parts and components have increased since the announcement of the National Automotive Policy 2014 (NAP2014). In 2014, RM4.7 billion worth of parts and components were exported, rising to RM 9.8 billion in 2015.

In 2016, the value stood at RM7 billion as at June 2016, with the target of more than RM11 billion by the end of 2016 expected to be met, and 2017 is set to see this figure go up to RM12 billion.

The increase in exports of parts and components has been enabled through various programmes to improve the competency of the industry, MAI said. Participants of these programmes have recorded an average increase of 24% in productivity since its inception in 2014, it added.

Furthermore, the remanufacturing sector, a relatively new business area to the automotive ecosystem, recorded a commendable RM282 million worth of exports as of June 2016. The export target of remanufactured parts and components in 2016 is expected to be RM513 million when finally tallied. For 2017, MAI said that exports in the sector are expected to amount to RM750 million.

Other numbers included that of EEV penetration in the domestic market – this has risen from 32.6% to 39.3% as at November 2016, and is expected to surpass 40% for 2016 when the final numbers are in. This percentage is forecasted to increase to 50% in 2017.

Finally, total production volume figures (TPV), which amounted to 545,253 units in 2016. The institute forecasts that the TPV numbers will touch 570,000 units in 2017, lending the belief that the year should be positive for the industry.

Its CEO Datuk Madani Sahari stressed upon the significance of TPV figures as a measure of industry performance. “The TPV provides a more holistic reflection, with vehicles produced locally for both domestic consumption and exports,” he explained.