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11 December 2015

Government Should Encourage Citizens To Drive New Cars

By and large, Malaysia is a prosperous country. But the same may not be true of its 28 million (and counting) citizens. Many of the citizens are not well to do and cannot afford to change cars on a whim and fancy. However, it is clear that driving new cars helps to lower carbon emissions, and newer cars are also known to be more fuel efficient. So why isn't the government of Malaysia helping its citizens to drive new cars?

There are, indeed, several ways to help citizens drive new cars. One of these is to lower the import duty for foreign vehicles. (Of course, that might cause a run-in with Proton, which is a local car manufacturer, but it would benefit Proton to be more competitive.) Some of these foreign-made cars can be more fuel efficient (hybrid and electric cars?) than the locally produced cars. Another is to encourage trade-ins through government incentives. ("Trade in your car today! Get a 20% matching grant from the MOT....") And a third is for local producers to manufacture cars with government subsidy, therefore allowing them to sell to Malaysians at rock-bottom prices.

There are drawbacks to driving older vehicles. But many of us drive them anyway, because we tell ourselves that we look cool like Warren Buffett (or, for some Malaysians, the late and great Nik Aziz). One of these drawbacks is the part failure that owners face. This part or that part will wear out and break down, causing untold grief in suddenly necessitated expenses. Another drawback is petrol consumption. Your older, sexier beast of a vehicle will roar on the road. And it will guzzle that gallon of oil whenever you fill her up. Yet a third drawback is the cost of retrofitting the car with modern gadgetry. If you want air-conditioning, remote locking, keyless ignitions, and such, all in your old junk on wheels, be prepared to spend money. If you decide to save on money, you're due for a hot, sweaty drive on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. (It's rainy season now, so read this article again in 6 months time and see if you agree.)

If the government does not agree that citizens should drive new cars, it may be of the opinion that less cars on the road is better for the environment. The government cannot ban cars. But it may consider reducing the number of cars on the road. Workers power the economy, and workers need to get to work. Thus, workers need to commute. Commuting, unfortunately, requires a car, unless there is good public transportation at the place you want to go to.

In an article from Catchnews (1) it was stated that in India, the Delhi government has decided to reduce cars on the road by banning cars with odd and even numbers on alternate days. This would theoretically halve the number of vehicles on the road if everybody owned only one car.

However, another article from Catchnews (2) stated that a similar effort was carried out in Mexico City between 1984 to 1993. The carbon emissions actually increased because many car owners purchased a second, older car so that they could drive their second car when they could not drive their first.

I hope that the government of Malaysia will pay heed and give incentives to Malaysians to trade in their cars. Local car makers will have a field day and their sales figures will go up. Government makes more tax from local car makers. Malaysians get to buy new cars at more affordable prices and get rid of their old piece of junk. Everybody wins. Everybody is happy. And elections are coming soon.

References
  1. Delhi Pollution: Odd and even number vehicles to be on roads on alternate days from January 2016, by SPEED NEWS DESK. Published 4th December 2015. URL: http://www.catchnews.com/social-sector/delhi-pollution-odd-and-even-number-vehicles-to-be-on-roads-on-alternate-days-from-january-2016-1449225421.html
  2. What Bogota, Mexico City, Beijing's experiences tell us about Delhi's even-odd policy, by Nihar Gokhale. Published 7th December 2015. URL: http://www.catchnews.com/environment-news/what-bogota-mexico-city-beijing-s-experiences-tell-us-about-delhi-s-even-odd-policy-1449428409.html

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