KUALA LUMPUR: China-based BYD Auto Industry Co Ltd (BYD) is looking at growing the Malaysian electric vehicles (EV) market as the country adopts the increasingly global EV trend.
With local partner Sime Darby Motors – the automotive arm of Sime Darby Bhd – it is set to invest RM500mil over two years to establish a wide network of BYD showrooms.
According to BYD Asia-Pacific auto sales division general manager Liu Xueliang, Malaysia is the only country in South-East Asia with its own car brands, and the understanding of the automotive sector would mean the prospects for EV’s are looking bright.
Liu was speaking to StarBiz at the launch of the BYD Energy Awaken ATTO 3 here by International Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, following Sime Darby Motor’s appointment in September as the official distributor of BYD vehicles in Malaysia.
Liu added that as part of BYD’s vision for a sustainable future powered by electrification, the company is looking to strengthen its partnership with Sime Darby Motors in penetrating the market.
“Sime Darby is a globally recognised brand, not only in car distribution but also in other sectors.
“Drawing on Sime Darby Motors’ proven track record, combined with our technology and expertise, we would be working from a position of strength to deliver our innovative vehicles to Malaysian consumers and support the country’s carbon reduction ambitions,” he said.
Sime Darby Motors Retail and Distribution Malaysia managing director Jeffrey Gan, while stopping short of disclosing the number of units of the ATTO 3 SDM and BYD are aiming to sell, said the collaboration would be targeting an “ambitious” number.
“EVs are a new and competitive environment. Nevertheless, at this point in time, we are seeing demand exceeding supply for the first batch of the ATTO 3 which are ready for delivery this month.”
The ATTO 3 will be available in two variants, with price starting from RM149,800 for the standard range and RM167,800 for the extended range.
However, with the cost of EV’s being the primary challenge in Malaysia’s adoption of such vehicles on a larger scale, and in response to whether SDM would be bringing in more economical cars from BYD, Gan said SDM would not be stopping with the ATTO 3.
“There are many products under the BYD brand, and we are working closely to identify which car would be the best to bring in next,” he said.
Meanwhile, on the issue of charging stations, BYD’s Liu pointed out that the present lack of charging points in the country should not pose a major problem to the ownership of the ATTO 3, as the vehicle could travel up to 480km on a full charge.
BYD is also building its first overseas manufacturing plant in Thailand, set to begin operations in 2024.
Having said that, both BYD and SDM said they have not decided where BYD cars that are to be sold in Malaysia would be assembled.
The RM500mil investment by SDM would see BYD’s first showroom opening in the middle of this month in Kuala Lumpur, followed by three more in Ara Damansara, Penang and Johor in the first half of 2023.
By the end of next year, 20 more showrooms would be built in Malaysia, and doubling that in 2024.
At the launch, Tengku Zafrul commented that the collaboration between BYD and SDM bodes well for the EV ecosystem, and he hopes that the cooperation will spur the development of the renewable energy industry beyond merely EV distribution and into the manufacturing of critical EV components.
“The government will continue to provide incentives for local assembly and manufacturing of energy-efficient vehicles, as well as for original equipment manufacturers, in order to stimulate investment and accelerate the development of the EV ecosystem,” he said.