Volkswagen had been trying for ages to get their foot in the door in Malaysia, but for some reason or another, it never worked out. In August, they signed a memorandum of understanding with DRB-HICOM. In September, it became known that the Malaysian government is evaluating applications from five foreign automakers, which put Volkswagen’s Malaysian move in question again. But fear not, the deal is done.
Volkswagen proudly announces that “Christian Klingler, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, and representatives from the partner company DRB Hicom today signed an agreement for local vehicle assembly in the presence of Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Passat models are to be assembled from the end of 2011 with a view to the long-term development of the Malaysian automobile market.”
The Passats will be assembled from CKD kits, and only a few thousand a year. However, “it is planned to build further Volkswagen models for the Malaysian market on the basis of a local full scale production in a second expansion phase from the end of 2012.”
DRB-HICOM is a Malaysian powerhouse with experience in assembling foreign cars for Honda, Suzuki and Mercedes-Benz. With a nationwide sales network, DRB Hicom is one of the most important automobile dealers and importers in Malaysia.
Interesting tidbit: The revised Malaysian National Automotive Policy of 2010 contains such expected measures to protect the nascent auto industry as a ban on used parts from 2011 on. Importation of used cars to Malaysia will be illegal as of 2015. So far, so unsurprising.
However, the Malaysian Investment Development Authority stressed again that “foreign automakers, in order to qualify for the manufacturing licence, are only allowed to assemble cars of 1800 cc or more.”
That’s 1.8 liters or MORE. Inscrutable orient.