Naza, GM’s latest Malaysian partner, is aiming to be much more than just an importer and distributor of Chevrolet cars in the country; the company wants to be the ASEAN production hub for GM. This ambition was revealed by Datuk SM Faisal SM Nasimuddin, joint group executive chairman of the Naza Group.

“GM sees Malaysia as a very strategic market,” he said, adding that the US carmaker wants to turn Malaysia “into a regional hub” for export of certain models (could he be talking about the Chevrolet Cruze?). But to make local assembly viable, one needs numbers and Datuk SM Faisal said that Naza hopes to raise local Chevrolet sales to between 35,000 and 40,000 cars by 2015, before establishing an assembly facility in Malaysia.

“We have to set up a facility. We are exploring how we can become an ASEAN hub,” he added. GM’s regional base is currently in Thailand, where its Rayong plant has been standing since 1996.

In any case, the targeted figures are ambitious for the reborn (in Malaysia) marque, and not many are as optimistic.Ahmad Maghfur Usman, an analyst with OSK Research told AFP: “I think the target of 40,000 units is a bit ambitious. Malaysian buyers still prefer Japanese makes due to their fuel efficiency, quality and better resale value.” Do you agree?

On a separate note, Naza Quest (the subsidiary was formerly called Pavilion Crest) has inked a deal with AmBank that will see the lender become the “official finance provider” for Chevrolet dealers. In the first year, RM50 million will be allocated for this program, which will take care of capital expenditure and working capital financing for authorised Chevrolet dealers. Naza Quest COO Datuk Maruan Mohd Said said that Chevrolet brand will have a total of 21 3S centres by the end of 2010, from the present 11.