Japanese auto parts maker Sakamoto officially launched its new plant in Malaysia today. Sakamoto Manufacturing Malaysia, a RM90 million facility located at the Bandar Mahkota Industrial Park in Banting, is Malaysia’s first manufacturer of plastic fuel tanks.

The new company is a joint venture between Sakamoto Research and Development (SRD) and Azman Hamzah Plastik (AHP) signed in August 2016, with SRD holding a 70% share and AHP a 30% share. Altogether, the paid-up capital amounts to RM22 million.

Sakamoto Manufacturing Malaysia began production of plastic fuel tanks in October 2017, with the first units going to Perodua. The new Myvi, launched earlier this month, features the product – claimed to reduce weight by as much as 20%, or around 1.5 kg, compared to a traditional metal fuel tank.

The plant uses entirely robotised blow moulding and burr cutting processes to create the fuel tanks, before they undergo drilling, cutting, bracket insertion and welding. The pump, hose and protector are then assembled and inspected before the components are shipped.

Sakamoto plans to build as many as 300,000 units a year here, with a new blow moulding line coming on stream in 2019 to bump up the plant’s capacity from 200,000 units to 450,000 units. Aside from eventually fulfilling Perodua’s entire supply of fuel tanks, the company has also reached an agreement with UMW Toyota Motor to build fuel tanks for local assembly starting in early 2019.

The company said that it is committed to developing Malaysia into a regional automotive hub for Energy Efficient Vehicles (EEV), by contributing to vehicles that comply to fuel efficiency standards and carbon emissions requirements. It also stated that its investment in Malaysia will lead to additional employment opportunities locally.