Sime Darby is determined to take full advantage of the incentives the government has given in the new National Automotive Policy.

The National Automotive Policy’s new incentives encourages foreign automakers to assemble their vehicles here in Malaysias, thus turning Malaysia into an automotive assembly and distribution hub for the ASEAN region.

Sime Darby has long been a major player in automotive assembly and distribution in Malaysia. They have an Inokom assembly plant in Kulim and a BMW assembly plant in Shah Alam. The Inokom plant assembles the Atos and Matrix cars, and the BMW plant assembles the E46 and E39 BMW 3 and 5 series for the local market. Sime Darby is currently looking into assembling the Hyundai Getz in the next 12 months and the new E60 BMW 5 series by Q1 2006. Next up would be Hyundai’s saloon models – the Accent, Elantra and Sonata, and BMW’s new E90 3 series. The group intends to export both local assembled marques.

Sime Darby group chief executive Datuk Ahmad Zubir Murshid said that BMW was originally interested in assembling all it’s models in Thailand and bringing them over to Malaysia to take advantage of the ASEAN tax breaks, but now it makes more sense for them to assemble the models in Malaysia. Sime Darby also intends to become the ASEAN hub for Hyundai cars, eventually.

On the rumours of Sime Darby taking over Khazanah Nasional’s stake in Proton, Datuk Ahmad Zubir said Sime Darby has always been focused on assembly and distribution, so going into manufacturing is very tricky. There are no plans to take up stake for the time being as they have no experience in automotive manufacturing.

Source: The Edge Daily, StarBiz