Malaysia seeking help from Nissan, Toyota for 3rd national car project — report

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is seeking help from Japanese automakers, including Nissan Motor, Toyota Motor and Daihatsu Motor, for its potential third national car project, according to a report by the Asian Nikkei Review, quoting Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The premier reportedly told the press yesterday during his four-day working visit to Fukuoka, Japan, that gaining access to Japanese automotive expertise would be "essential" to making cars that meet modern standards.

"Some members of my delegation will be visiting Daihatsu, but we have one company [that] has written to Nissan and Toyota to seek cooperation with them," he was quoted as saying, but he did not mention the company’s name. Daihatsu is fully owned by Toyota Motor.

Dr Mahathir proposed the new national car project during his visit to Japan in June, after winning the country's general election in May, where he led the Pakatan Harapan coalition to a stunning victory. He said then that his new national car ambition was born after China’s Zhejiang Geely acquired a 49.9% stake in Proton. The sale was supported by the previous government, after Proton recorded years of disappointing performance, despite state assistance provided to the company.

The country's second national car maker Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua (Perodua) is a joint venture with Japanese companies, including Daihatsu.

When speaking to a group of high school students attending the Japan Future Leaders School summer camp yesterday, Dr Mahathir also said environmentally friendly electric cars are the choice of the future.