Vivek Vaidya is the auto guy. For the fifth year on the trot, he’s in Kuala Lumpur again to present his company’s Automotive Outlook for 2018
Vivek is Frost & Sullivan’s Senior Vice President for Mobility - a seasoned analyst, having observed and studied the auto markets of Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and ASEAN for the past 12 years.
In the two-hour-or-so briefing to journalists on January 9, 2018 he explained why Frost & Sullivan expects the auto market to gather steam again in 2018, after a somewhat slow 2017 and challenging 2016.
The consultancy company expects Malaysia’s Total Industry Volume (TIV) to grow another two percent in 2018, to 601,000 units.
For the uninitiated, the less fancy term for TIV is the total vehicles sold. In 2017, it was 589,209 units.
He said the strengthening ringgit, rising consumer confidence and the release of new models will all collectively keep Malaysians interested enough to buy new cars.
But to me, what’s perhaps the most memorable was what he said to me a day after the briefing, when he dropped in at the AWANI studios for a more in-depth interview.
For me, I see Frost & Sullivan as the expert in building a brand. And I see Vivek as the expert of the auto sector. So for my last question to him in the interview, I tried to combine those two things.
And I asked him: In today’s world, what makes a good car brand?
Vivek said, it’s down to three things. And no, whether or not a car is an expensive, luxury car is irrelevant.
Customers now demand connectivity everywhere they go. A typical car driver spends about 3 to 4 hours in their cars on a daily basis
“Number one is whether you have green technology. The drive now is towards zero tailpipe emission,” he answered.
He said batteries would be the most common option, while using liquid hydrogen fuel would be ‘the top of the technology’ – but he says it can be simpler than that.
“If you’re able to just continuously reduce the emission that comes out of your car, it’s going to be a key success factor,” he said.
The second is a more obvious factor.
“The second key success factor is how safe your car is. Most of the brands have a vision that they should have zero accidents, that their vehicles should be safe enough that it doesn’t get involved in accidents (at all),” he said.
I wasn’t sure whether that is possible, but I let him continue. And I’m glad I did, because the third part is the most interesting one.
“From the customer’s point of view, a car has to be a connected car.
“Customers now demand connectivity everywhere they go. A typical car driver spends about 3 to 4 hours in their cars on a daily basis.
“So the connectivity of the car is important for them,” he says.
It’s interesting indeed, because this is the element that seems to be overlooked by a lot of car brands at the moment, especially our local ones.
And in a more competitive world where local car brands have no choice but to gradually increase their prices, they need all the edge they can get over international brands to survive the market.
Whether or not Proton or Perodua will go big with their cars’ connectivity will remain to be seen, it’s a safe bet that they should, sooner rather than later.
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