We are on the part of the world where cars are the most expensive on earth. Our buying power has kept on shrinking where our pay is good enough to buy a Ramly burger when in the West, their equivalent pay buys them a decent Big Mac. We have an automotive industry that has so much potential but ended up still many marques rather set their factories in Indonesia and Thailand, losing our potential country investment to these nations.
Despite the maniacal jams in KL, we do love our cars, don’t we?
Sounds depressing? You’re wrong. We Malaysians love our cars! Despite our nation’s small size, we buy more passenger cars than our neighbour does. Well, the Thais love their rugged images with their trucks and pick ups and the populous Indonesians would love a people’s carrier or a MPV to carry their families around. We however still love to drive our cars, to everywhere we go. Bet it to the shops to get a bottle of coke, or meeting up our friends at the mamak stall, or driving our partners to places to impress them, cars are pretty much essential to every Malaysian’s life. Well I think the word “essential” is an understatement due to these factors 1. Our public transport is hopeless. 2. We don’t like cramping into slow and packed trains and buses 3. All of the above.
For that, in these recent years we have been seeing a lot of brands came to Malaysia to set shop and sell their cars. Even the parallel importers happily took those pre owned Japanese sport cars, European super cars and luxury vehicles to be sold here, and you’d be amazed how well they’re sold here. There are more Ferrari owners in Malaysia too as compared 10 years ago, all thanks to Ferrari who decided to open one of their biggest showrooms in the world near the Federal Highway. Volkswagen is surprised to know the Golf GTI, Polo and the Scirocco are among their top sellers in Malaysia despite the premium pricing.
How about our local players like Proton and Perodua? Some Malaysians think we could easily afford more better quality cars if Proton or Perodua do not come into picture. Well partially I agree but seeing our national cars have been here for more than 2 decades, why stop it? Proton has undergone massive positive improvement compared to few years back and Perodua is pretty much doing well, all thanks to its Japanese partners. Major local players like Naza did a brilliant job of bringing Peugeot, KIA and Chervolet brands to be acceptable by us. Moreover they provide great job opportunities to our rural folks in Pekan, Gurun, Rawang, Tanjung Malim and so on which is not bad. Brands which were dead years ago were bought back alive and doing well, just like Mazda, Suzuki and Volkswagen.
I have not even mention about the automotive lifestyle scene in Malaysia. Thanks to the Internet, we have many car clubs and car web forums were formed like rabbits during a mating season. There are car clubs to cater for almost everyone, from the common Proton Saga or Myvi owners club, to some exotic super cars club like Blue Jackets society and to some extend classic car clubs and even an oddly named Bodykit club does exist. Where in Osaka in Japan where most famous Japanese tuners were based, we have our own “Osaka” in the form of Sunway, although it is much smaller but there are no shortage of Nissan GTRs, Civic Type Rs, Evolutions to be seen there. Not to mention our local skillful tuners deserve some mentioning too.
In short, the next time if there’s a foreigner petrol head asking how can we live in a country where cars are overpriced and overtaxed and the quality is terrible when our pay is pretty much pathetic. I would happily to answer “We love our cars. It is our life”.