KUALA LUMPUR: Sime Darby Bhd is keen to participate in the third national car project via its automotive arm Sime Darby Motor Sdn Bhd, banking on its expertise in assembling vehicles and engines.

While noting the fact that Sime Darby is not a car manufacturer, group chief executive officer Datuk Jeffri Salim Davidson said the company is ‘keeping close eyes’ on that (third national car project).

“We also want to play. We are in the car business so we are looking at the opportunity.

“We do not have the technology to build cars, so we would not be involved in car manufacturing per se but we want to get involved somehow. We know how to assemble cars we do quite a good job in Kulim,” he told reporters after Sime Darby’s annual general meeting here today.

International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming was quoted saying Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s concept for the car would likely materialise in the form of an energy-efficient vehicle (EEV).

He said Dr Mahathir has spoken on the possibility of having an Asean car with cooperation with Indonesia, so there is opportunity to explore with other players on the electric cars (EVs) and EEV.

In addition, NanoMalaysia Bhd chief executive officer Dr Rezal Khairi Ahmad said the proposed national car project would have to be electric to be viable.

Sime Darby is primarily a luxury marque player representing BMW, Rolls-Royce, Porsche and Jaguar Land Rover among other brands.

In May 2018, Sime Darby Motors via its wholly-owned subsidiary, Sime Darby Auto Engineering Sdn Bhd, opened a new BMW engine assembly plant in Kulim, Kedah.

The RM132 million plant with a built-up area of 24,000 sq m has the capacity to assemble 10,000 engines for BMW’s range of locally-assembled vehicles, and is the second BMW engine assembly plant in Southeast Asia after Thailand.

The new plant supports the group’s strategy to expand its assembly capacity to cater for the domestic market with the newest capabilities in engine assembly technology, and supports BMW’s export initiatives to other Asean markets.

Meanwhile, Jeffri said the company is optimistic on its automotive division moving into financial year 2019, pending the release of new models of BMW 3 series.

Source: NST