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Mahathir revives dream of Malaysian car brand, with help from Japan
[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad revived his decades-long efforts to create a competitive homegrown car brand by picking a local company to spearhead the project, with some help from Japan.
Closely held DreamEDGE Sdn will lead the plan, Malaysia's third national-car project, in collaboration with Daihatsu Motor Co, Minister of International Trade and Industry Darell Leiking said near Kuala Lumpur on Friday. But the government won't fund the project and will only facilitate with licensing, he said.
The company is looking at building a sedan as its debut model, with an advanced internal combustion engine or a hybrid being likely, DreamEDGE CEO Khairil Adri Adnan said.
Dr Mahathir used a similar strategy before. Proton Holdings Bhd and Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sendirian Bhd, or Perodua, partnered with Japanese manufacturers in line with the premier's Look East Policy from back in the 1980s that sought to turn to Japan as a model for Malaysia's industrialisation.
The premier announced a plan for a third national-car project just a month since coming back to power last year.
Now he's turning to DreamEDGE, a company founded by a graduate of Polytechnic University Japan that calls itself a product of his Look East Policy. The company has built prototypes of electric vehicles. The next national car is set to be launched in March 2021 with hiring for engineers set to start in the middle of next month, Mr Leiking said.