An assembly plant for electric vehicles in Gurun, Kedah, is expected to be operational in July next year to turn Malaysia into a hub for electric vehicles in Southeast Asia.
An initial investment of up to RM300 million is being made by Beijing Auto International Cooperation, Chinas top and worlds second biggest electric vehicle manufacturer, in collaboration with a Malaysian partner, Amber Dual Sdn Bhd.
Amber Dual managing director Shabudin Md Saman said the project has begun with research and development in Gurun on changing from left-hand drive to right-hand drive, at the cost of about RM50 million.
He said the prototype electric vehicle developed in Gurun is expected to be ready in December, with the first production expected in July 2016.
The Gurun plant, being built at the cost of between RM200 million and RM300 million, will also serve as a marketing centre for Malaysia and South East Asia.
Shabudin said BAIC has a production target of 2,000-3,000 electric vehicles next year, to be increased gradually every year, as demand for electric vehicles are still low being a new technology.
Our company has also set our mind on a higher goal as we do not want to rely solely on BAIC technology, instead we aim at adding value in the vehicle design. We aspire to lead Malaysias electric vehicle technology.
Government help is also needed as electric vehicle technology requires high financing, especially in installing vehicle battery-charging facilities.
We are also working on battery technology on our own. For an electric vehicle, the battery alone accounts for one-third of its cost, he said.
BAIC senior vice-president Li Ji said the company is confident that Malaysia would become an important electric vehicle hub in South East Asia as it has good infrastructure to support its growth.
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