German luxury carmaker BMW AG has picked Malaysia as the export hub for its flagship 3, 5 and 7 Series models to Vietnam and the Philippines. The group also targets to increase its annual production capacity to 11,000 cars by 2018, in line with its plan to start shipping the three models to the countries by then. Interestingly, both target markets are left-hand drive countries.
“Malaysia continues to be a strategic hub for the BMW group in Southeast Asia,” BMW Malaysia Sdn Bhd managing director and chief executive officer Han Sang Yun said after the launch of the locally-assembled BMW X1 and BMW X4, here, yesterday. “We, at BMW Group Malaysia, are pleased to be able to raise our competency here to assemble and export these premium vehicles to emerging markets in the region to grow our capabilities in the Asean region.
“The new X1 and X4 are a further testament to our longstanding investment and commitment in Malaysia as a strategic hub for BMW in the Southeast Asian region,” said Han. While it was still too early to elaborate on production expansion, BMW Malaysia officials said it would depend on market conditions. “But we will definitely need to increase our production if we want to export,” the company’s head of corporate communications Sashi Ambi said, adding that BMW produced 8,000 vehicles per year at its assembly plant in Kulim, Kedah.
Overall, the plant, which is sitting within the premises of Sime Darby Bhd’s manufacturing facilities, assembles more than 20 variants of BMW and MINI vehicles. BMW Malaysia also hopes it can surpass last year’s sales of 9,350 units for BMW, MINI and motorcycle models. “We are very hopeful (of surpassing last year’s sales). What we really need is a lot of positive news from the industry. “What we are announcing (export hub) today is one of it. We want to put cars in different markets and regions. We are hopeful that other carmakers will follow the similar path,” said Sashi.
Meanwhile, the government has urged the BMW group to use the opportunities available under the Asean Economic Community (AEC) to make Malaysia the regional hub to export more of its car models. Second International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, who was present at the launch, said this was in line with BMW’s aim to make Malaysia its export hub for the 3, 5 and 7 Series. “A regional strategy that takes full advantages of the AEC’s market liberalisation measures will likely yield higher sales and revenue.
“In addition, the Malaysian automotive industry also stands to maximise the potential offered by market liberalisation initiatives under various free trade agreements that the country has signed with nations beyond Asean to enhance its market share in the global economy,” Ong said. Yesterday, BMW also reduced the prices of the 3 Series Gran Turismo, the X3 and the 5 Series by up to nine per cent, following customised energy-efficient vehicles incentives it had received from the government.
Earlier this year, the carmaker revised down by up to eight per cent the prices of BMW 1 and 3 Series variants as the vehicles had received the same incentives.
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