Earlier this year, it was reported that Bermaz Auto planned to introduce a new locally-assembled (CKD) Mazda SUV during its 2021 financial year (FY2021), which runs from May 1, 2020 until April 30, 2021.

While the company didn’t refer to any specific model, there were two possible candidates, namely the MX-30 and CX-30, the latter of which is already available here in fully-imported (CBU) form. However, those reports came out in February before the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) to curb the spread of Covid-19, so how has the company adjusted its plans?

In an episode of The Breakfast Grille by BFM, which aired on August 13, Bermaz Auto CEO Datuk Francis Lee discussed the company’s current status as well as its future plans, touching upon the abovementioned topic and more.

On the matter of the new CKD Mazda SUV, Lee confirmed a cash injection of RM200 million into the Inokom plant in Kulim, Kedah where CKD Mazdas – currently the CX-5 and CX-8 – are made. Bermaz Auto owns 29% of the Inokom plant and will fork out about RM20 million from the RM200 million to invest in the expansion of the facility.

“We are always looking for more CKD models as I mentioned earlier, but of course during this pandemic, things move a bit slower than normal. But we’re still not giving up yet, we’re hoping that Mazda Japan will try and accommodate our request; we’re still working on it very hard,” said Lee.

“As far as the plant expansion goes, it’s going to proceed as planned but it will be delayed by a couple of months because of the pandemic and MCO. This RM200 million capital expenditure expansion will be at the Inokom level, so it’s not at the Bermaz level. As far as cash flow is concerned, it’s not going to deplete our cash a lot,” he added.

Lee went on to say “we’re also not giving up hope on the third CKD model from Mazda Japan, which is still in the works, although it’s very hard to communicate now with Hiroshima because of this pandemic. We can’t fly there as and when we like to have further discussions, but hopefully in the next month or so, we can have some kind of conference call to push it along further.”

Once again, the specific model isn’t mentioned by Lee, but we’re inclined to believe that the CX-30 will be the one made into a CKD model, seeing how the MX-30 is relatively new and deliveries haven’t started in certain major markets just yet. Of course, this is purely our speculation and we’ll need to wait for Bermaz Auto to give the official word.

Moving on, when asked about Next Generation Vehicles (NxGVs) – as prescribed in NAP 2020 – Lee brought up the MX-30, saying, “we have plans to bring in some of these next-generation vehicles. In fact, the new MX-30 that was launched at the Tokyo Motor Show last year comes in a full electric version. Our original plan was to bring it into Malaysia end of this year, but it won’t be in the full electric version because it’s not ready; Malaysian infrastructure is not ready.”

“What we want to do is bring in the mild hybrid version. Originally, it was supposed to be end of the year but because of this pandemic, so it’s been delayed probably for a month or two, so hopefully we can bring by the first quarter of next year, the mild hybrid version. Going forward, if the infrastructure is in place and there are a lot of incentives given for next-generation vehicles, we will consider the full electric version for the MX-30,” he said.

“Other models that we’re thinking of bringing in would be the BT-50, the all-new pick-up truck to replace the aging BT-50 that was a joint venture with Ford. The new one will be a joint venture with Isuzu, but we have our own design and interior. Hopefully we can get it in the first quarter of the next calendar year,” Lee added.

So, there you have it. Bermaz Auto’s upcoming plans include the introduction of a new CKD Mazda SUV when the Inokom plant expansion is completed, along with the local debuts of the MX-30 in mild hybrid form and the third-generation BT-50 pick-up truck in Q1 2021. Which one are you looking forward to?