The late Col (rtd) Mokhtar Ismail, GM of Champion Motors which sold VWs in the 1960s and 1970s, congratulating the first taxi driver in Malaysia to use a Golf, which had just been introduced in early 1977

The establishment of VW Group Malaysia is the fourth time that the VW brand has had an official distributor, and this time it is VW itself. VWs first appeared here in the 1950s when Champion Motors began importing the Beetle and the first showroom was in Sungei Besi, Kuala Lumpur.

In 1967, local assembly started at Assembly Services Sdn Bhd in Shah Alam, Selangor. The plant was then owned by the Inchcape Group, which Champion Motors was part of. Besides the Beetle (which was assembled between 1968 and 1977), the first generation of the Golf was assembled locally as well as the VW van. Champion Motors also had the Audi franchise and sold imported as well as locally-assembled models.

In 1985, Inchcape decided to pull out of the motor business in Malaysia and Champion Motors thus ceased activities.

The franchises for both the German makes were then acquired by Auto Dunia, a new company set up as a private business venture by the Tan Chong families. The Malaysian national car had just started and perhaps they felt that with the Nissan dominance ended, having a second line of business would be a good idea.

Syarikat Arshad, an enterprising car dealer in Selangor, imported VW Beetles in the 1970s.
Official production of the classic model finally ended in 2003 after a run of 65 years 
VW advertisement in Malaysia in 1997

Under Auto Dunia, Audi volumes grew, in part due to increased refinement in the models as the brand went upmarket. Auto Dunia also assembled a couple of models locally (at the Tan Chong plant in Segambut, Kuala Lumpur) which enabled pricing to be lower and the sales numbers were high.

VW models, however, were sold in fairly small numbers as pricing was tricky. Only the Caravelle van was assembled locally for a while during the 1980s and models such as the Bora and Vento were the only imported cars which could be priced competitively. At that time, VW did not place much importance on the Malaysian market and was therefore not particularly responsive to appeals for better ex-factory prices.

It is not known what caused VW to end its relationship with Auto Dunia but in late 2002, the German company decided to appoint EON as its new distributor for both VW and Audi, and EON established Euromobil for the purpose. Euromobil started off with Audi and had plans to proceed with VW activity (a plot of land next to the Audi Hangar in Glenmarie, Shah Alam, was already set aside for a new VW showroom). But when Proton came into the picture, Euromobil voluntarily gave up its VW franchise in January 2005.

[Chips Yap]

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