UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) – a joint venture between local conglomerate UMW Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) – celebrated 50 years of vehicle production in Malaysia with a special ceremony held at its new plant in Bukit Raja, Klang this morning.

The golden jubilee event was graced by Sultan of Selangor HRH Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah and HRH Tengku Permaisuri Norashikin. Also present were Selangor menteri besar Datuk Amirudin Shari, Japan ambassador to Malaysia Dr Makio Miyagawa, and Tatsuro Ueda, CEO of China and Asia region at TMC.

In his speech, UMWT chairman Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah bin Che Othman expressed his gratitude to the state and federal governments for their support over the decades. “Our heartfelt thanks to all Toyota customers and Malaysians for your contribution and support over the last 50 years, which has enabled us to be where we are now,” he said.

On UMWT’s latest investment of around RM2 billion to set up the Bukit Raja factory, Hamad Kama Piah said the move has brought in the latest and advanced manufacturing technology, high levels of automation and innovative design, while promoting energy efficiency in Malaysia.

“At the same time, we have not forgotten the environment and safety; our new plant has been conceived as a society-caring plant which is less noisy, and it operates with various renewable energy initiatives as well as low in carbon footprint,” he said, adding that UMWT also emphasises on human capital development to develop more high-skilled Malaysian talent while reducing the need for foreign labour.

Looking ahead, the UMWT chairman said that in tandem with market expansion, the company will continue to develop local suppliers and promote higher localisation.

“Toyota’s vision is to lead the way in the future of mobility, pursuing new and innovative ways of connecting people through transportation and technology. This can only be achieved by engaging the talent and passion of people, who believe there’s always a “better way”. In this sense, I truly appreciate Malaysians and particularly the people of Selangor for your hard work to make Toyota grow to what it is today,” said Ueda, the TMC rep, who described the new factory as one of the best in Asia in terms of advanced manufacturing tech.

To commemorate Toyota’s 50 years production milestone in Malaysia, UMWT presented a Toyota Yaris to the Selangor Youth Community. The five-door B-segment hatchback was handed over to HRH Sultan Sharafuddin. The association’s patron is the Raja Muda of Selangor, DYTM Tengku Amir Shah.

Here’s a brief history on Toyota production in Malaysia. In 1968, the Champion Motor plant in Shah Alam started assembling Toyotas, with the first model being the Corolla KE10 you see here. In 1975, Champion Motor was renamed to Assembly Services Sdn Bhd (ASSB), and the name is being used till today. In 1982, Sejati Motor, the predecessor to today’s UMWT (the name change happened in 1987) was formed as a JV between UMW, TMC and Toyota Tsusho Corp. It acquired the ASSB plant.

When 1990 came around, 300,000 units of Toyota vehicles had been assembled in Malaysia, and the tally reached 500,000 in year 2000. Midway through the decade, the first generation of the IMV range (International Multi-purpose Vehicle) including the Hilux, Innova and Fortuner was introduced. The one million units milestone was reached in 2011.

More recently, the Camry Hybrid rolled out of Shah Alam in 2015, the first hybrid model to do so. In 2016, production of the second generation IMV range started, as well as construction of the Bukit Raja plant. In 2018, the 1.5 million mark was reached.

The new 670,000 sqm Bukit Raja plant’s first fruit is the current Toyota Vios, followed by its Yaris hatchback sister model – both were introduced this year. With around 1,000 staff, the new plant’s current production volume is 50,000 units per year, with room for expansion. ASSB’s Shah Alam plant is still running at a capacity of 38,000 units a year. It puts together the Toyota Hilux, Fortuner, Innova and Hiace panel van.