Assembly of motor vehicles in Malaysia began in 1967/68 at six plants – Asia Automobile Industries (making Mazda and Peugeot); Associated Motor Industries (BMC, Ford, Holden, Renault and Rootes);  Assembly Services (Chevrolet, Mercedes, Toyota, Vauxhall and Volkswagen); Swedish Motor Assemblies (Volvo), Kilang Pembena Kereta-Kereta (Mitsubishi) and Capital Motor Assembly (Bedford, Opel and Datsun).

Asia Automobile Industries, which had Mazda and Peugeot as minority shareholders was situated in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, while Kilang Pembena Kereta-Kereta and Capital Motor Assembly were in Johor. The others were built in the newly-opened industrial estate of Shah Alam in Selangor.

Over the next 16 years, some of the six plants would change ownership and brands which were built in them while Tan Chong built its own assembly plant in Segambut, Kuala Lumpur, in 1976 and TATA built a small manufacturing facility in Pekan, Pahang, which is today the DRB-HICOM manufacturing complex.

DRB-HICOM manufacturing complex in Pekan, Pahang

Of the original six, Associated Motor Industries – which was owned by Ford Malaysia, a joint-venture between Ford and Sime Darby – closed down in 2006 when the American carmaker decided to cease having direct involvement in the Malaysian market. It was bought over by the Tan Chong Group but is not being used for any activities presently. The Tan Chong Group has, however, been operating a second plant of its own in the Serendah area of north Selangor.

In 1984, with the commencement of the National Car project, Proton built what became the biggest car factory in Malaysia in Shah Alam, Selangor. Eight years later, the second national car company, Perodua, also built a big plant near Rawang, Selangor.

Proton also has a second plant in Tanjung Malim, Perak, which was built in anticipation of a major increase in production volumes to 500,000 units during this decade.

Over in East Malaysia, there were also a couple of plants set up. One was Sarawak Motor Industries which, in the 1980s, assembled BMW and Skoda cars as well as Toyota light commercial vehicles (CVs). In Kota Kinabalu, another plant produced Isuzu vehicles.

The Proton plant shortly after commencing operations in 1985
Total output from Perodua (left) and Proton (right) plants accounted for 57% of all vehicles produced in Malaysia during the first 6 months of 2013
Satellite view of Perodua's factory complex (yellow area is where a second plant is being built)

In Kedah, the northern part of the Peninsular, there were also two plants set up. One was by the Naza Group which initially produced Kia models while the Inokom plant (which had Hyundai and Renault as minority shareholders) produced Renault and Hyundai light commercial vehicles under licence. More recently, a third plant has also been assembling Great Wall vehicles in the same state.

According to the Malaysian Automotive Association, the total local production of vehicles for the first six months of 2013 was  293,511 units. If compared to the Total Industry Volume (TIV) of new vehicles sold in Malaysia during the period, this would mean 93.6% of the vehicles sold in Malaysia were made locally. However, a small percentage is also exported but this figure is unknown as the companies do not readily reveal export data.

The Mercedes-Benz S Class (left) is the most expensive model assembled in Malaysia, while the Honda Jazz Hybrid is the only hybrid model assembled locally

Compared to the same period in 2012, local production has increased by 4.1%, showing that even with the quota-free provision for vehicles to be imported from other ASEAN countries (as per the ASEAN Free Trade Area agreement), local assembly volumes have not decreased.

For the benefit of those interested and especially for our politicians who may lack correct information about the models built in Malaysia and where they are built, here is a complete list as at the end of June 2013.

Vehicle deliveries from the plants are done day and night by car-carriers

For vehicle sales during the first 6 months of 2013, click here

[Chips Yap]

3 Comments

  1. Chansangtat

    We are wondering why cars prices are not being reduce even though more than 90% of them are produced locallly. Cars are not an investment at all especially for the lower income group but they are necessity and a mode of transport. Most in this group spent almost forty % of their hard earned monthly salary in their monthly installment to repay their loan and most of them will not be able to recovered their money when they decide to sell the car at the end of the loan period. We really hope the authorities and the consumers warriors will find ways to force manufacturers to lower the prices of especially cars with 1.5 litres engines capacity and below. These categories of cars are now exempted from excise duties and our neighbors,Thailand and Indonesia are selling at least 30 %to 40 % cheaper!
    Come on for the Rakyat. Malaysia Bolih. Rise and fight for lower car prices as we have suffered for too long!

    • The only cars exempted from excise duties are hybrids, not cars that are below 1.5 litres. They are the only cars that can be bought duty-free in Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. All other cars are subject to high excise duties which cause their prices to be high. At least 1/3 of what you pay goes to the government, not the car company.

  2. This is some great info, it’s too bad that so few Malaysians (especially the younger generations) seem to know or care about our vehicle assembly plants and their cherished history. As of late, I’ve taken great interest in this topic, and I’m glad I found this article as it’s a real gem ! If only there was a bigger list for all the cars that have been assembled in Malaysia over the years, since the 60s when it all started with the Volvo 144.

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