During an official state visit to Indonesia, prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad hinted at the possibility of reviving the Malaysia-Indonesia ASEAN car project. Such an idea was first mooted way back in 2014 by then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who said the project would involve a collaboration between Proton and Indonesian partner PT Adiperkasa Citra Lestari.

“Back in 2015, we’d discussed to jointly produce a car made by Indonesia and Malaysia for Southeast Asian nations, but it had not been followed up. Now we are looking at reviving the project,” said Mahathir in a report by Channel NewsAsia.

Both companies eventually signed an MOU agreeing to conduct a feasibility study to explore areas of cooperation for an Indonesian national car, with Mahathir (then Proton chairman), saying the venture could result in the development of a car for the ASEAN market. At the time, Proton was also exploring the possibility of a partnership with China-based car manufacturers like Geely to develop an ASEAN car.

The premier’s latest statement didn’t include any extra details, such whether the same parties would be involved in it, or even an expected timeline. Instead, Mahathir recalled the idea (for an ASEAN car project) was highlighted during a test drive session in a Proton car with Indonesian president Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in the passenger seat.

“At the time, I was no longer prime minister and I was driving at 180 km/h at the Sepang circuit. President Jokowi didn’t complain about anything (when the car was being driven quickly),” said Mahathir in a press conference with Jokowi. “It was very fast but I had no fear because Bapak Tun Mahathir was behind the wheel,” said Jokowi in reports by Bernama and The Star

What are your thoughts on this? Should the ASEAN car project be revived again, and if so, what companies should be involved in it?