PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is said to have sought assistance from Japanese automakers, including Nissan Motor and Toyota Motor, to start work on a potential third national car project, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.
Accessing Japanese automotive expertise would be “essential” to manufacture cars of a high standard, Mahathir said on the sidelines of a four-day working visit to the city of Fukuoka.
“Some members of my delegation will be visiting Daihatsu.
“But we have one company that has written to Nissan and Toyota to seek cooperation with them,” said Mahathir, without mentioning the company’s name.
Daihatsu Motor is fully owned by Toyota Motor.
The Nikkei report said some market players had insisted that Malaysia’s annual vehicle sales of just under 600,000 units do not provide the economies of scale needed.
Mahathir was instrumental in launching the Proton car project during his first stint as prime minister in the 1980s.
It has since been partly sold to Chinese manufacturer Zhejiang Geely Holding after suffering losses.
The second national car maker Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua, or Perodua, is a joint venture with Japanese companies, including Daihatsu.
Earlier, when speaking to a group of high school students attending the Japan Future Leaders School summer camp, Mahathir described environmentally-friendly electric cars as the choice of the future.