Kuala Lumpur: A unit of US automaker General Motors Corporation has tied up with Malaysian conglomerate DRB-HICOM Bhd. to explore making Chevrolet cars for Southeast Asia’s booming market.
Under the pact, the companies will “explore the establishment of a local vehicle assembly programme as well as a manufacturing hub for the production of Chevrolet vehicles, parts and accessories” to be sold in the 10 countries making up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, they said in a joint statement.
General Motors Asia Pacific Holdings LLC will hold a 51% stake and DRB-HICOM the remaining 49% in the joint venture, which is expected to begin operations in October.
“As the largest market for passenger cars in Southeast Asia and a key member of the Asean community, Malaysia is a country in which GM believes we must have a major presence,” said Steve Carlisle, president of GM’s Southeast Asia operations.
DRB-HICOM is already the distributor of GM vehicles in Malaysia. After signing the joint venture, the two companies launched the Chevrolet Aveo, a 1400cc sedan aimed at capturing the young executive market. A basic model costs $19,968.
General Motors has expressed interest in an alliance with Malaysian national carmaker Proton, which is actively in talks with Germany’s Volkswagen AG as it searches for a foreign partner to turn it around.
Volkswagen is seen as the front-runner in the Proton bid, but some officials have previously said GM may partner DRB-HICOM to boost its chances. Gaining a stake in Proton could help GM which already has operations in Thailand, South Korea, India and China, consolidate its position as a key player in Asia’s booming automotive market, analysts have said.
Asean groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam and comprises a community of 550 million people.