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We’re still several hours away from the launch of the Perodua Bezza, but the second national carmaker’s first sedan has already caused quite a stir, with The Star reporting that Maybank Investment Bank Research is raising its sales forecasts for the company because of the huge interest in the model.

The research house revealed that it was raising its Perodua sales forecasts for the calendar years of 2016, 2017 and 2018 from 220,000, 217,000 and 205,000 units to 225,000, 250,000 and 240,000 units respectively. Higher sales numbers are also expected to increase the earnings forecasts for beneficiaries such as parent company UMW Holdings and suppliers MBM Resources and Pecca Group by between 1% and 12%.

“In terms of exposure to Perodua, we believe that MBM is the largest with Perodua being a 22.6%-owned associate which accounts for 80% to 85% of MBM’s bottomline. We estimate about 10% to 11% of Perodua cars sold in Malaysia are via MBM’s DMM Sales; auto parts supplies (i.e. seatbelts, airbags and wheels) [are] via Hirotako and Oriental Metal Industries (OMI), both under MBM.

“Pecca benefits as the sole supplier of leather car seat covers to the automaker while UMW sees positive exposure from its 38% stake in Perodua itself,” it stated.

Perodua expect to sell nearly 8,000 units of the Bezza per month in 2016, and 38,000 units for the remaining five months of the year. Maybank IB has been conservative in its projections for the model, raising sales forecasts from 15,000, 30,000 and 25,000 units in 2016, 2017 and 2018 to 30,000, 84,000 and 70,000 units.

However, it only raised its forecasts for total Perodua sales by 2% to 17% to account for the Bezza’s expected cannibalisation of Myvi sales, as well as slower sales of the dated Alza.

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To be built at Perodua’s new plant in Serendah, the Bezza has a local content of 95%. The Bezza’s new 1NR-VE 1.3 litre Dual VVT-i engine will be manufactured at a new engine plant in Sendayan, where another new plant, which will build the car’s electronic automatic transmission (E-AT), is also situated.

Priced at between RM37,300 for the 1.0 Standard G manual and RM50,800 for the range-topping 1.3 Advance auto, the Bezza comes with kit including LED tail lights, keyless entry, push button start, front parking sensors, a USB smartphone charging port, a touchscreen multimedia system, a reverse camera and hill start assist, many of which are new to the brand.

Safety-wise, all models come with dual airbags, but ABS with EBD is now standard-fit as well. What’s more, the Advance model also gets Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), allowing it to nab Perodua’s first five-star ASEAN NCAP rating (all other models get four stars).

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Two engines are available for the Bezza, the first a 67 hp/91 Nm 1KR-VE 1.0 litre VVT-i engine and the aforementioned 94 hp/121 Nm 1NR-VE 1.3 litre Dual VVT-i mill. These engines are paired to either a five-speed manual transmission of a four-speed automatic.

Such is the public interest in the Bezza that Maybank IB sees it as a threat to Proton’s offerings – the Saga, Iriz and Persona are reported to make up a combined 70,000 to 75,000 units of the carmaker’s 102,000 sales in 2015. It has to be said, however, that Proton will launch the new Saga and Persona this year.

GALLERY: Perodua Bezza 1.3 Advance

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