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    Malaysians will have more choice to buy cars in the future. GM is planning to explore Malaysia as Malaysia is one of the biggest markets for cars in the region. Read the full news from Bernama by D. Arul Rajoo below.


    Despite General Motors (GM) entering bankruptcy protection in the United States, its Southeast Asia operation is going ahead with future expansion, including exploring plans to open a manufacturing plant in Malaysia.

    Steve Carlisle, president of General Motors Southeast Asia Operations
    and Chevrolet Sales Thailand, said there was no specific plan at the moment but the company would continue to explore the possibility of setting up the plant.

    Asked on the timeframe and total investment intended, Carlisle said it could be post-2010 while financial aspects would be worked out later.

    He said that based on conditions in Malaysia, it would be possible to have a joint venture, adding that GM was prepared to talk to any potential partners, including national carmaker Proton.

    In 2007, DRB-HICOM Bhd and General Motors Asia Pacific Holdings LLC (GMAPH) formed HICOM-Chevrolet Sdn Bhd to strengthen the Chevrolet brand in Malaysia. DRB-HICOM holds 49 percent in the new company and GMAPH the remainder.

    At a press briefing here today, Carlisle said GM Asia Pacific, including GM Thailand and Asean, would be an important part of the “New GM” and would maintain normal business operations although the world’s biggest automaker has filed for bankruptcy in the US.

    Despite the economic crisis, he said GM Asia Pacific recorded unprecedented growth in the first quarter of this year, and all indications pointed to the continuation of this trend for the rest of 2009.

    But he also confirmed that GM was shutting down its Rayong plant for two weeks to better manage its inventory, admitting that the 40 to 50 percent drop in Thailand’s export and 30 to 40 percent reduction in domestic sales were having impact on all manufacturers.

    GM vice president of Asean sales, marketing and after-sales service, Antonio Zara, said it was planning to expand the current seven dealerships in Malaysia to between 20 and 25 outlets.

    “With more dealers we will be able to have reasonable coverage. This is part of our future plan, including exploring plan to set up a CKD (completely knocked down) plant in Malaysia,” he said.

    Asked why GM would want to open a plant in Malaysia when it already has the state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Rayong, Thailand, Zara said this was necessary to meet different requirements in different parts of the region, especially concerning tax.

    He said Thailand provided lower excise duty for pick-ups while Malaysia and Indonesia imposed lower excise duties for locally assembled cars and multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) respectively.

    “If we bring cars from Rayong to Malaysia, the import duty is low but the excise duty is high. Malaysia is also one of the biggest markets for cars in the region and we need to take into consideration this aspect,” he added.

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