The Malaysia Automotive Insitute (MAI) is being rebranded as the Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii). The agency said the rebranding exercise, which was announced at its MAI Car of The Year awards show yesterday, will expand its scope as the focal point, coordinating centre and think-tank towards enhancing the competitiveness of the local automotive industry.

The expansion will add on coverage in areas such as overall mobility, including intelligent transportation systems and related services through adoption of robotics and the internet of things (IoT) to the institute’s portfolio.

“The advancement of automotive technology will create a convergence with overall mobility towards a higher degree of automation and connectivity. This is expected to spur greater cross-functional applications in advanced manufacturing and advanced IT, with robotics and IoT applications rapidly becoming a fundamental requirement particularly in achieving Industry 4.0 compliance,” said MAI CEO Datuk Madani Sahari.

“It is for this very reason MARii will be tasked to undertake the adoption of these two key areas to complement the development of the automotive industry,” he added.

Minister of international trade and industry Datuk Darell Leiking said that the expanded scope falls in line with current developments and future trends, and elaborated on the importance of finding new sources of value and growth through the convergence of new technologies.

“The world of production is undergoing unprecedented transformation mostly driven by Industry 4.0 technologies such as 3D printing, IoT, cloud computing, augmented reality and system integration,” he said

“Globally, the automotive sector is the main driver behind the implementation of robotics and IoT. This can be seen in both the automotive manufacturing and services sectors. Applications such as advanced driver assistance systems, driving management systems, camera technology and others that are equipped in modern cars will pave the way to create new businesses and job opportunities through connected mobility”, he added.

Leiking said that these areas would also be covered in the upcoming National Automotive Policy (NAP) review, which is set to be revealed next year. “The revised policy will cover the entire automotive ecosystem and be underpinned by the new elements of technology namely next generation vehicle (NXGV), mobility as a service (MaaS) and industrial revolution 4.0 including artificial intelligence (AI),” he said in his speech.

He said the government views the automotive industry as a significant and strategic contributor to the country’s economic well-being, contributing about RM40 billion, or 4% to Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP). He was also encouraged by the strong performance in vehicle sales that have been recorded so far this year.

“For the period of January to September 2018, a total of 454,971 units were sold, an increase of 6.9% against 425,711 units in the same period last year. Trends have shown that the month of December has consistently recorded increased vehicles sales compared with November, mostly due to year-end promotions by the various car makers,” he said.

“This is expected to continue with the conclusion of two recent autoshows, the Kuala Lumpur International Motorshow 2018 (KLIMS), organised by the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC) and the Premium Auto Car Expo (PACE), organised by Paultan.org at Setia City Convention Centre last month. I commend the efforts taken by the industry in giving the consumers better choices, as seen in the great turnout at both shows,” Leiking added.

The COTY event, which saw the Peugeot 3008 taking home the 2018 COTY award, also saw prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad being named as the first recipient of the MAI COTY lifetime achievement award and MAA president Datuk Aishah Ahmad being honoured as the 2018 automotive personality of the year.