GEORGE TOWN: Half a billion new Hot Wheels cars will roll off toymaker Mattel’s assembly line in Penang every year from early 2023.
This will raise the annual production capacity of the company’s purpose-built plant in Penang by 20% — from 440 million now — to meet an expanded global demand.
Soo Teck Heng, the company’s Asia manufacturing senior vice-president, said the plant is now producing an average of nine million toy cars in single packages every week, making Mattel the top selling toy brand. The Penang plant is the world’s largest Hot Wheels factory.
“We have found a niche in toy car manufacturing with our 13-acre plant in Perai. With the existing talent pool — we have the expertise and deep technical competency in die-casting — we expect output to soar,” he told reporters at the plant in the Perai industrial estate.
Local subsidiary Mattel Malaysia Sdn Bhd was set up in 1981. It now employs 4,000 workers and the workforce is expected to be enlarged by 10% once the new plant is opened, according to a company handout.
Mattel’s tooling and development facility will get the most out of the expansion effort. It now has 200 local engineers churning out 3,000 new moulds every year.
Mattel president and chief commercial officer Steve Totzke also announced that under a collaboration with Proton, the first Saga — which hit the road in 1985 — will be immortalised in a 1:64 Hot Wheels replica and shipped worldwide by the end of next year.
“This timely and meaningful partnership epitomises both brands’ proud legacy in Malaysia on the 40th anniversary of our entry into Penang,” he said.
The prototype model of the Mark 1 Saga — in red, white and brown — were on display at the plant today. An original Saga from Proton’s headquarters was also brought to the factory today.
Also present at the event were Penang chief minister Chow Kon Yeow, US ambassador to Malaysia Brian McFeeters and officials from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida).