For Malaysian motoring enthusiasts of some of the world’s most evocative brands, such as Alfa Romeo, Jeep and, of course, the daily driver Peugeot, it was a moment to cheer when their owner, Stellantis NV, announced that Malaysia will be its Asean hub.
While Peugeot had been represented in Malaysia through franchises – with Bermaz Auto Alliance being the most recent – Stellantis will now manage the brand directly via a national sales company, with a potential RM2 billion in investments in Malaysia covering manufacturing to distribution and sale of Peugeot cars.
The Stellantis group’s 14 brands are Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Opel, Peugeot, Ram and Vauxhall.
Stellantis’s investment in Malaysia’s automotive industry is significant because, while the 14 marques in its constellation are legacy car makers, its corporate agility in partnerships with China’s car makers makes it a rising star in the global industry.
To get some perspective of Stellantis’s investment in Malaysia as its Asean hub, I spoke with Daniel Gonzalez, its chief operating officer for Asean.
“Together with Peugeot, we have 14 iconic car brands at Stellantis and we need to provide multi-energy cars for our customers all over the world.
“In Malaysia, we’ll focus on the new platforms for the Peugeot 2008, 3008 and 5008 at our plant in Gurun, Kedah. We will also make EVs in Indonesia, starting with the Citroen Ë-C3 next year. For Vietnam, we’ll assemble left-hand drive versions of the Peugeot 3008 and 5008.”
Reiterating Stellantis’s RM2 billion investments to produce multi-energy vehicles – combustion, battery electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles – in and for Asean, Gonzalez said this was to achieve the group’s global decarbonisation targets.
“In Asean, this can result in local sourcing opportunities of over RM5 billion for local suppliers and manufacturers within the next four years.
“This investment will lead our shift to electrification in Asean markets. Besides the innovation that comes with electrification, the energy transition will open many new opportunities, including the local assembly of battery packs and new related job opportunities.
“EVs currently form 1% to 2% of Malaysia’s new car sales, and 10% of Thailand’s. So, the potential for EVs is immense in Asean and we want to lead the expansion of electrification in this region.
“Producing EVs here in Asean includes the development and engineering of vehicles tailored to the specific needs of local consumers in this region,” said Gonzalez.
The change in Stellantis’s business strategy in Southeast Asia reflects its decision-making speed and is in line with its electrification plans and global Dare Forward 2030 strategy, which was presented by CEO Carlos Tavares in March last year.
Formed in 2019 as the result of a merger between Groupe PSA and the Fiat Chrysler Alliance, the multinational corporation secured a strategic stake in Hangzhou-based pure EV maker Zhejiang Leapmotor last month.
Groupe PSA, which is at the heart of Stellantis, is no stranger to partnerships in China and has counted Dong Feng and Changan as Peugeot’s partners from the early days of China’s modern automotive industry in 1992.
The partnership, secured in October 2023, leverages the strengths of both Stellantis and Zhejiang Leapmotor to create a competitive EV mobility powerhouse in China and around the world.
Zhejiang Leapmotor is among the fastest growing Chinese pure-play new energy vehicle (NEV) tech leaders. Its strength is that it has proprietary technology and makes its own electric motors, vehicle control units and LED matrix headlights.
It has a depth of technology in video and pulsed light detection, as well as ranging (LiDAR) systems which put it in the forefront of autonomous vehicle technology.
Out of the 129 new cars launched in Malaysia from January 2022 to June 2023, there are 42 models of electrified powertrains available to consumers, from EVs to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and hybrids.
So it’s a good time for Stellantis’s new and direct engagement in Malaysia.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.