Mahathir dreams of new national car for Malaysia

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To the surprise of many, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on June 11 that he aims to have a new national car company, given that Chinese automaker Geely has acquired a stake in Proton.

“The national car must be owned by Malaysians,” he told the 24th Future of Asia Conference in Tokyo organised by Nikkei Inc., adding that “the company has been sold to Chinese company, it is no longer a national car.”

He added that his ambition was to start another national car brand ideally in collaboration with other partners in Asia including Thailand, Japan, China and South Korea.

“I believe we have the capacity to produce good quality cars which are sellable throughout the world,” he said, adding that “we want access to the world market.”

In an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review on the sidelines of the forum, Mahathir said the new car company could capture a piece of the global market by making vehicles equipped with advanced technologies.

“We hope of course we would be able to produce a new car in compliance with the Euro-5 or Euro-6 emission standards so that we can have access to the world market,” he told Nikkei.

However, the idea did not go down well with everyone, with some urging for more focus on public transport. Critics also said that with a current public debt pile of one trillion ringgit ($251 billion) as a fallout of the 1MDB scandal, another state-backed car company – which would highly likely be loss-making for years at the beginning –would not be feasible.

Aside from this, there is another existing brand, Perodua, which is technically backed by Japan’s Daihatsu. Given that Malaysia is a small market, and its brands haven’t proven to be overly successful in regional sales, a new state-backed national car would be a “dead horse.”

Opposition politician Wee Ka Siong , deputy president of the Malaysian Chinese Association, said that the government should rather prioritise public transportation over another local car company and stop scrapping rail and urban transport projects.

“Starting a third national car company and to ensure its success can only mean reverting to higher protectionism, which will result in higher car prices across the board,” he said, adding that it was not the right strategy for the government moving forward as such a “colossal project” would cost “many millions.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

To the surprise of many, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on June 11 that he aims to have a new national car company, given that Chinese automaker Geely has acquired a stake in Proton.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

To the surprise of many, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on June 11 that he aims to have a new national car company, given that Chinese automaker Geely has acquired a stake in Proton.

“The national car must be owned by Malaysians,” he told the 24th Future of Asia Conference in Tokyo organised by Nikkei Inc., adding that “the company has been sold to Chinese company, it is no longer a national car.”

He added that his ambition was to start another national car brand ideally in collaboration with other partners in Asia including Thailand, Japan, China and South Korea.

“I believe we have the capacity to produce good quality cars which are sellable throughout the world,” he said, adding that “we want access to the world market.”

In an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review on the sidelines of the forum, Mahathir said the new car company could capture a piece of the global market by making vehicles equipped with advanced technologies.

“We hope of course we would be able to produce a new car in compliance with the Euro-5 or Euro-6 emission standards so that we can have access to the world market,” he told Nikkei.

However, the idea did not go down well with everyone, with some urging for more focus on public transport. Critics also said that with a current public debt pile of one trillion ringgit ($251 billion) as a fallout of the 1MDB scandal, another state-backed car company – which would highly likely be loss-making for years at the beginning –would not be feasible.

Aside from this, there is another existing brand, Perodua, which is technically backed by Japan’s Daihatsu. Given that Malaysia is a small market, and its brands haven’t proven to be overly successful in regional sales, a new state-backed national car would be a “dead horse.”

Opposition politician Wee Ka Siong , deputy president of the Malaysian Chinese Association, said that the government should rather prioritise public transportation over another local car company and stop scrapping rail and urban transport projects.

“Starting a third national car company and to ensure its success can only mean reverting to higher protectionism, which will result in higher car prices across the board,” he said, adding that it was not the right strategy for the government moving forward as such a “colossal project” would cost “many millions.”

 

 

 

 

 

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