ENCOURAGED by the overwhelming response to its latest model, Mk III Lajoya, Bufori Motor Car Company (M) Sdn Bhd, Malaysia's manufacturer of handcrafted sports car, has big plans to expand its assembly operation overseas.
Its managing director Gerry Khouri said the company was in the midst of negotiating joint-venture agreements to assemble the 2.7-litre V6 Lajoya (pronounced Lahoya) outside Malaysia to cater to markets in North America, Europe and China.
Each assembly plant is expected to have a minimum annual production capacity of 300 units. Bufori's plant in Kepong can produce 320 units of the Mk III a year.
The first one (overseas plant) is expected to kick off in Europe by the end of this year. We are looking at Germany or the Czech Republic, Khouri told Bernama.
The next assembly joint venture could be in China, followed by another in North America, but Khouri said talks on these plants were still preliminary.
We look at China as a very big market. We would have to work three years to provide one year's demand, he said.
The Mk III comes in two engine versions, an ordinary V6 and V6 Supercharger. In its non-Supercharger engine form, the car sprints from zero to 100km in seven seconds and reaches a top speed of 220km per hour.
The model has received some 230 confirmed overseas orders, including over 100 from US car buffs, 85 from Europeans and 30 from Australians.
The luxury two-seater coupe, which sports a 1930s retro classic look, comes with a super strong body as it is made from composite material combining carbon fibre and kevlar.
Retailing at US$120,000 (RM456,000), the car is the third model produced by the company, which started production in the 1980s in Australia by Khouri and his elder brothers, Anthony and George.
About four years ago the company moved its entire operations to Malaysia.
Now the Malaysian activities also include research and development (R&D).
Khouri said the planned foreign expansion would not result in Bufori losing its appeal as an exclusive luxury sports car producer.
We are not interested in producing cars in the thousands or in masses. We are only interested in making cars in limited numbers as our vehicles are collectors' items, he said.
The planned overseas joint venture was to satisfy the markets (according to each particular region) in the future, he said.
Khouri said the Kepong plant would remain as Bufori's main manufacturing facility and R&D centre.
Of course, we are expanding (in Malaysia) but sadly it is not easy to find workers who are prepared to adapt to new technology and new way of thinking, he lamented. Bernama
Did you find this article insightful?