Along with the official preview of the second-generation (KF) Mazda CX-5, Mazda Malaysia also launched its new paint shop at the Inokom plant in Kulim, Kedah. The setting up of the facility was revealed to us back in April 2016, and has since started operations as of August 29 this year.

For the first time, Mazda’s premium colours will be offered for locally-assembled models sold in Malaysia, beginning with the CX-5. Prior to this, customers who wanted the SUV in Soul Red Metallic were only able to do so by purchasing fully-imported (CBU) units. The same can be said of the Mazda 3 sedan as well.

When it finally makes its launch debut, the CX-5’s colour palette will include Soul Red Crystal (an evolution of Soul Red Metallic), Machine Grey as well as Snowflake Pearl White Pearl Mica. All these finishes do come at a premium, which has been suggested to be an additional RM2,000 for all variants, as per what we saw on a dealer’s price list.

Although both the CX-5 and 3 are locally-assembled Mazda models in Malaysia for now, the company has yet to confirm if or when the sedan (and even the hatchback) will see an update to its colour palette.

The need for the new facility is largely due to Mazda Malaysia’s plans to expand its export market to Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar. Both left- and right-hand drive cars will be assembled on the same line for export to the respective markets. Currently, the CX-5 SUVs are meant for local consumption in Malaysia, and also exported to Thailand.

“We see Malaysia as an important production base in the ASEAN region and, with the aim of establishing a sturdy production system, we’ve worked closely with our business partners to develop manufacturing of Mazda cars here,” said Masatoshi Maruyama, managing executive officer in charge of Global Production and Business Logistics at Mazda.

“Customers in ASEAN markets are constantly raising the bar for Mazda’s products, technologies and quality standards. We see it as our mission to offer value that exceeds their expectations. And the Malaysia-made all-new CX-5, which is imbued with Mazda’s passion for car-making, is just the model to do that,” added Hiroshi Inoue, managing executive officer in charge of ASEAN business at Mazda.

The paint shop was built as part of a 2.3 billion yen (about RM86 million) investment, which also includes automating part of the body-welding process. With these enhancements, the Inokom plant is aligned with Mazda’s “parent factories” of Ujina and Hofu in western Japan, in terms of technologies.