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The drastically rising number of coronavirus cases is complicating efforts to reopen the economy, which has all but shut down under the current movement control order in effect since June 1. Doubtless many companies have been affected by the situation, and distributor UMW Toyota Motor has weighed in regarding its struggles.

According to president Ravindran Kurusamy, the closure of all Toyota and Lexus showrooms has meant that the company has not been able to conduct any business, while the entire vehicle manufacturing process, including supply chain and logistic activities, has also been halted. He added that while the order was necessary to slow the infection rate, it has also posed a challenge for the company’s operations.

“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.

Ravindran reminded customers that they can still learn more about their desired models and book their cars – which will continue to be offered with sales and service tax (SST) savings until the end of the year – on the official websites.

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

Under the order, selected service centres have been permitted to remain open to provide emergency assistance. “Across the nation, customers can still obtain emergency assistance and selected aftersales services for their vehicles,” Ravindran said, adding that owners are advised to make an appointment first and that these facilities are taking all the necessary measures to protect customers and staff.

The effects of the order have been particularly severe on vehicle production. “While the government has formulated a National Recovery Plan (NRP) in four phases, we are still in Phase 1, which is the most restrictive. The current situation also makes planning for recovery difficult,” said deputy chairman Akio Takeyama, adding that prolonged restrictions could impact not just passenger vehicles but also commercial vehicles, essential for goods deliveries across 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 continued.

Plans to invest in the local manufacturing of hybrid vehicles, announced earlier in the month, could also be affected by the lockdown, UMW Toyota said.

Meanwhile, the fourth season of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival has also been put on hold to comply with the order. Just one round was able to be held in March, in a season that was supposed to introduce two new race series to complement the existing Vios Challenge.

“It is unfortunate that the ongoing pandemic and strict MCO conditions do not allow running of public events. This includes motorsports so the fourth season of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival and Vios Challenge are on hold. When we ran the exciting first round on March 2 at the Sepang International Circuit, we were looking forward to the next two rounds as well as the introduction of the Gazoo Racing Vios Sprint Cup and Gazoo Racing Enduro Cup,” said Takeyama, who is also Gazoo Racing Malaysia’s chief motorsports officer.

Takeyama urged the public to continue following the government’s protocols, in order to lower the disease infection rate and enable events to be allowed to run again. “Let us all do our part and pray that the number of Covid-19 cases quickly reduces, and the government will be able to relax the regulations to allow public events,” he said.



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