Sime Darby Motors and BMW Group Malaysia launched have officially opened the Sime Darby Auto Engineering (SDAE) Engine Assembly Facility in Kulim, Kedah, which will assemble three- and four-cylinder petrol engines, four-cylinder diesel engines as well as three- and four-cylinder petrol engines for plug-in hybrid vehicles, for the group’s range of locally-assembled vehicles.

The recently-introduced MINI Cooper S Countryman Sports will be the first model to receive the engines, before they will filter out to other locally-assembled models such as the BMW 330e, 530e, X5 xDrive40e, and 740Le, as well as the three-cylinder MINI Cooper S E Countryman. The newly established engine assembly facility resides on a six-acre plot with a built-up area of 8,500 sq m, at a total investment value of more than RM132 million by SDAE.

The three engines – the B48 2.0 litre turbo petrol, B47 2.0 litre turbo diesel and B38 1.5 litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engines are all produced on one assembly line, which currently outputs 12 units per day. This will ramp up to 40 units daily by July 2019 for an eventual production of 10,000 engines yearly, and the B48 is the first engine type from the plant to reach the vehicle assembly line in mid-May.

The engine plant features innovations such as EST tightening equipment, Dosing and Bonding Technology (Dobotech) equipment, engine engraving, engine oil filling, test machines for hydraulic valve play compensation, leak tests, and hot and cold testing – processes conducted before the engines are sent to the nearby assembly line.

Eventual assembly rate of engines here will be 10,000 engines per year (per shift), according to BMW Malaysia, and the new facility has employed an additional 60-person workforce for the local career market in the Kulim Hi-Tech area.

The new facility, alongside the assembly plant and the Regional Parts Distribution Centre in Senai, Johor will promote the exchange of technological know-how, and to develop a more innovative workforce in line with the transformative aspirations of the country, said the deputy secretary-general (Industry) of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Datin K. Talagavathi.

The mention of diesel engines is interesting, considering that BMW Malaysia no longer has any diesel models in its lineup – the last variant that was sold here, the 320d Gran Turismo, has already been discontinued. This means that the company is likely looking to introduce new oil-burning models soon.