Peugeot Citroen to make Malaysia its regional car export hub
French auto giant PSA Peugeot Citroen said Wednesday it will make Malaysia its regional car production hub for exports to Southeast Asian countries, Australia and South Africa.
In July, Peugeot announced an assembly-and-sales deal with Malaysian automaker Naza to build 70,000 vehicles at its Gurun plant in northern Malaysia, to be sold in markets of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
"Peugeot has picked Malaysia to springboard into the ASEAN market and expand and strengthen its position in this Southeast Asian market," Peugeot's Malaysia manager Vincent Comyn told AFP.
Comyn said that car sales in the region are expected to hit three million units in the next ten years with 1.1 million cars sold in Southeast Asia last year.
"Here we have a good partnership with Naza. We plan to increase our line-up steadily of Peugeot cars in the ASEAN market. We have big ambitions in ASEAN," he added.
Comyn said Peugeot sold 3,800 cars in Malaysia last year, which accounts for 85 percent of its car sales in the region, with plans now to have its compact 1,600 cc 207 model compete with popular Japanese makes like the Honda City and Toyota Vios.
"For 2011, we are hoping to sell 7,000 to 8,000 units of Peugeot cars, up from this year's target of 3,400 units," said Samson Anand George, chief operating officer of Nasim, a Naza subsidiary which distributes Peugeot cars from 20 outlets throughout Malaysia.
He said Peugeot's market share was less than one percent in Malaysia while local automakers Perodua and Proton formed 70 percent of the market with major players Toyota, Honda and Nissan taking up the remainder.
"Peugeot is also earmarked to export its cars beyond the region to right-hand drive markets including Australia and South Africa," he added.
PSA, ranked second in Europe behind Germany's Volkswagen, reported in July that it sold 1.86 million vehicles in the six months to June, up 16.9 percent from a year earlier as it sought to build up overseas sales even faster.
Earlier this month, Naza said it also planned to tie up with US giant General Motors to assemble Chevrolet cars in Malaysia, and could export the vehicles to other Southeast Asian markets.
ASEAN groups 10 countries in the region which aim to achieve a zero-tariff regime by 2015, a key ingredient for its ambitious plan to create a single market and production base by 2020.
© 2010 AFP