Too many nice new cars

In 2017, for every 5 new cars sold, 2 were a Malaysian (probably 2/3 to Perodua and 1/3 to Proton) and 1 was a Honda. It’s been a stellar run for Honda, they have been delivering value to Malaysians looking to graduate from the Malaysian made quality.

But the underlying spectre that haunts us is the mad rush to keep buying cars and overwhelming our roads and allowance for air pollution. Like our greed for palm oil money, we risk the depletion of our ecosystems ability to sustain us.

The Technology has caught up to help reduce the footprint – modern forward thinking manufacturers like Honda and Volkswagen are producing new turbo enhanced smaller and more efficient engines, Mazda took it to another level without even using the Turbo. Electric and hybrid cars are emerging and the infrastructure to support them is catching up. These more friendly fueled options will solve 1 of the 2 problems, the carbon footprint- but the other problem of congestion will remain.

Jakarta is a lesson for us all with the world’s worst traffic jams and some analyst predict it will grind to a halt in a few years if nothing changes. Meanwhile the Economist reported lately that most cars in the city spend 90% of their lifespan parked.

What we need to change is the business model of car ownership. All the electric cars in the world can’t save us if people have sunk cost in large carbon footprint fossil fuel legacy ones. Somehow we need to move towards a pay-per-use world of cars, where you can have a unit reserved longer term, or use them on demand or buy rides on demand.

The leadership most policy planners and Governments need to lead now is one around economics.

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