This year, Volvo Car Manufacturing Malaysia will be looking to expand its exports to five new markets – Vietnam, Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan – according to the company’s managing director, Fredrik Karlsson.

In a report by Bernama, Karlsson revealed that the move comes following the RM20 million restructuring of its plant in Shah Alam, which will allow the company to raise its total production up to 5,000 cars a year, as part of Volvo’s expansion plan ahead of 2020.

“We will start exporting in mid-year (upon completion of the plant), starting with the XC90 luxury SUV, followed by a new car at end of the year,” he said. Karlsson added that the carmaker is aiming to increase the plant’s capacity this year by 50% from the current 1,500 cars, followed by another 50% next year.

Currently, 60% of total production is for the domestic market, while the rest is for export to Thailand. “Over the years, it has been the other way around. But because Thailand was having difficulty (economic turmoil and bad weather) last year, we had a lot less production then,” he said.

Work on the revamped plant is expected to be completed by mid-2017, where by that time, Karlsson expects the ratio for domestic and export consumption to gradually change to 25:75.

Volvo has been in Malaysia for nearly five decades, with the foundation of Swedish Motor Assemblies in 1967. The company is headquartered in Shah Alam, and began local assembly in 1968 with the 144.

More recently, Volvo Car Manufacturing Malaysia commenced local assembly of the second-generation XC90, making Malaysia the only other country in the world to produce the flagship SUV outside of Sweden.

Karlsson also stated in the report that Malaysia would continue to be Volvo’s important market, as well as the production and purchase hub for Southeast Asia. For the latter, Volvo will look into the possibility of allowing Malaysian suppliers to enter the market in China.