According to a report by The Edge, Bermaz Auto could introduce a new locally-assembled (CKD) Mazda SUV during its 2021 financial year (FY2021). The company, which is the authorised distributor of the brand in Malaysia, is currently in its 2020 financial year (FY2020), which will come to a close this end-April.

“CKD has been our bread-and-butter [business], as 75% of our cars are locally assembled. CKD is built in ringgit, so we are not exposed to the Japanese yen. With more CKD models, we should be able to mitigate the impact if the sales of one particular model are delayed,” said Datuk Francis Lee, CEO of Bermaz Auto.

On the topic of potentially new CKD projects, Lee said, “if anything, that would be FY2021. If we do, it will be another SUV. Ideally, if we can get the pricing right, it could be as big as the CX-5.” While no specific model was mentioned, the CX-30 could be the one going the CKD route, as speculated in the past. Currently, the CX-30 is being sold as a fully-imported (CBU) model from Japan, and is positioned between the CX-3 and CX-5.

Size-wise, the CX-30 measures 4,395 mm long, 1,795 mm wide, 1,540 mm tall and has a wheelbase of 2,655 mm. By comparison, the CX-5 is 4,550 mm long, 1,840 mm wide, 1,680 mm tall and its wheelbase spans 2,700 mm, while the CX-3 is even smaller with a length of 4,275 mm, width of 1,765 mm, height of 1,535 mm and wheelbase of 2,570 mm.

Another possibility, as suggested by an AmInvestment report, is the MX-30, which made its debut at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show. While the debut focused on the all-electric version of the SUV (the MX-30 is Mazda’s first EV), the carmaker plans to offer both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions later on, although they’ve yet to be revealed.

Bermaz Auto’s current CKD line-up is assembled at Mazda Malaysia’s plant in Kulim, Kedah, and includes the CX-5 and CX-8. Other models like the Mazda 3, 6, CX-3, CX-9 and MX-5 RF come from Japan, while the Mazda 2 and BT-50 pick-up originate from Thailand.

However, Lee said that any CKD plans are subject to change depending on conditions, with particular reference to volume. “We and Mazda Japan have always been discussing how to expand our plants and get more vendors involved in the business. The main concern is not enough volume to justify the investments. Manufacturing is all about volume. If you don’t have the volume, nobody is going to invest,” he explained.

Lee also said that delivery of some vehicles has been delayed due to certain pricing issues, and noted that no CX-8 SUVs were sold during the second quarter of FY2020. “We had a pricing delay and, as a result, we were not able to capture the sales for 2QFY2020. Otherwise, we would have done better. The impact was quite significant because the CX-5 is our best-selling model. But it is what it is, we cannot change the situation; we can only learn from that,” he said.