As the country entered the into National Recovery Plan (NPR) exactly a month ago, daily Covid-19 cases have instead risen to five-figure levels, with cases in the Klang Valley alone soaring to over 6,000 cases.

With the NRP broken into four phases and using the number of daily cases as a barometer for moving forward, the Klang Valley is still stuck in Phase One where only industries in the essential services are allowed to operate.

The automotive industry is stagnant, with production and deliveries of new vehicles halted since the beginning of June. Commenting on the situation, President of UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT), Ravindran K. said that the continued closure of all Toyota and Lexus showrooms nationwide meant that no business could be conducted; whilst at the same time manufacturing of vehicles including the supply chain and logistic efforts have also come to a halt.

“We still have an encouraging order bank for the various models. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that the restrictions of the lockdown can be eased to allow us to operate in a limited and safe way. Naturally, we will abide by all Standard Operating Procedures, as we have during the past year,” he said.

“We encourage customers to make their bookings online as we can then plan production at our two assembly plants to minimize waiting time when the restrictions are lifted, to enable customers to enjoy the current financial incentives,” emphasised Ravindran K.

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For the first five months of the year, the company sold a total of 34,026 units, with sales of Toyota Vios, Yaris and the Hilux models contributing to 78% of sales in May. UMWT targets to sell 62,000 units this year, a modest 4.5% increase versus 2020.

Akio Takeyama, Deputy Chairman of UMWT added that prolonged restrictions on vehicle production can have an impact not just on passenger vehicles but also commercial vehicles, which are essential for transportation of goods around the country.

“Furthermore, export business will be affected as well as our subsidiaries export a substantial amount of automotive components as part of Toyota’s global supply chain. If this situation continues for long, we are concerned that our overseas customers may look for new suppliers as they cannot have their own production delayed due to shortage of parts from Malaysia. This could have an impact on Malaysia’s economy as a whole if export business declines,” he elaborated.

Last week, UMWT announced an additional investment of RM270 million in which the bulk of it is channelled towards expanding the new Bukit Raja plant in Klang to produce hybrid vehicles. The prolonged shutdown could also affect the timing of new hybrid products being rolled out from the plant.

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Current owners of Toyota and Lexus vehicles meanwhile are assured of all necessary measures being in place when they bring their vehicles for servicing. Owners however must contact their nearest service centre on their conditions of opening as well as schedule an appointment.

With social activities only allowed from Phase 4 of the NRP, it is unlikely that the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival featuring the Toyota Vios Challenge one-make race will see the completion of the original 11-race schedule. By the end of this month, the original calendar would have covered eight races, including the new additions at the Malaysian Championship Series (MCS).

Takeyama, who is also the Chief Motorsport Officer of Gazoo Racing Malaysia stresses that we should do our part and pray that the number of cases quickly reduces, and the government will be able to relax the regulations to allow public events to be held.