CHERY Automobile (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd will invest up to RM250 million in the country over the next five years, which will include a plant, to boost domestic sales and exports.
Chief executive officer Paul Ng said the aim is to turn Malaysia into the company's main automotive hub and producing right-hand drive vehicles.
"Chery has over 80 models and majority are small capacity and left-hand drives. We believe Malaysia is the most conducive place in Southeast Asia to assemble right-hand vehicles," Ng said.
Ng said the location of the plant has been identified and it would be in central Malaysia, where most sales are recorded.
He added that while the focus will be to serve the local market, the cars will also be exported to Thailand, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Pa-kistan.
"We have identified partners for the plant but still need approval from the government. We hope the first phase will be ready by 2015," Ng said.
The plant will have initial capacity to produce 10,000 cars a year, and double that, going forward, when sales improve, Ng said.
Ng was speaking to reporters yesterday after launching the company's largest 3S (sales, services, spare parts) showroom in Section 13, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, and the new Chery Eastar ST.
Chery Malaysia plans to introduce six new models from next year, including the Sedan hatchback, SUV and two commercial vehicles, Ng said.
"They will be completely knocked down units and assembled here. We hope to boost our yearly sales target by launching these models," Ng said.
For the current year, Chery Malaysia, which is part of Chery Automobile Co, the largest Chinese independent automobile manufacturer in China, is hoping to maintain its 2010 and 2011 sales target of 3,000 units.
"We don't have many models on the road to raise our sales target. That is why we will introduce new models and variants from next year," Ng said.