Well, another player has joined the list of local assemblers. Berjaya Corporation has been granted a manufacturing licence to build vehicles in the country by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and with that is set to assemble commercial vehicles, hybrid cars, electric cars and luxury passenger vehicles at a 100-acre plant in Bukit Tagar, Selangor.
Tan Sri Vincent Tan, Berjaya Corp’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement that the license would allow Berjaya more flexibility and control in terms of quality and pricing of its vehicles. The group currently holds the distribution and marketing rights to a number of brands locally, including Mazda, Chana Era, Skoda and Jinbei.
“Besides strategically complementing and widening our existing range of motor brands, this will also be a good opportunity for Berjaya Corp to promote green technology through the development of hybrid and electric vehicles which are more environmentally friendly. In line with this, we hope to expand our market share and develop a more global presence,” he said.
The direction towards hybrid (and EV) assembly looks timely for Berjaya, given the recent full excise duty exemptions on hybrid cars below 2.0 litres until Dec 31 next year. The exemption under the budget, along with the manufacturing licence approved by MITI, effectively means that Berjaya Corp will be able to circumvent the revised National Automotive Policy’s clause of only issuing manufacturing licences for vehicles above a 1.8 litre engine displacement and RM150,000 pricing, which had earlier played havoc on its plans for local assembly.
Earlier in the year, Berjaya Corp had signed a MOU with Chinese automaker BYD Auto to locally assemble the latter’s 1.0 litre F0 four-door hatch, but the NAP directive kept that from developing. Now, with the manufacturing licence approval, the project should in all probability get underway, and the assumption is that BYD models such as e6 and F3DM should figure in plans at some point in the future.