Two automakers have been shortlisted to lead the new national car project (NNCP), according to entrepreneur development minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Yusof. He said the government was still in talks with the parties involved, and will announce details once the final decision is made, Bernama reports.

“We are at the end stage of discussions, we cannot reveal more details as yet,” he said last week, adding that there were several aspects that were still being studied before everything is finalised.

Mohd Redzuan however hinted that the “Look East Policy” has featured in the selection of the shortlisted companies. The mention of the policy, which was prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s initiative in the 1980s during his first term as prime minister, suggests that it is likely that a Japanese car manufacturer will spearhead the NNCP.

Last month, Mohd Redzuan said the government was set to focus on ‘Extended Range Vehicles’ for the NNCP as it was deemed more affordable. Although there was no elaboration, speculation has it that it meant range extender EVs, as opposed to full battery electric vehicles.

Back in August 2018, before the official NNCP announcement, Mahathir had said that Malaysia would seek assistance from Japanese automakers for the project, name-dropping Nissan and Toyota then. If ‘Extended Range Vehicles’ does indeed refer to range extender EVs, Nissan currently has such technology in the form of its e-Power system as seen on the Note e-power, which has been on sale in Japan since late 2016 and was displayed at KLIMS 2018.

Early this year, there was word that the identity of the company leading the NNCP would be announced on January 28, but no details emerged then.