UMW Toyota may assemble hybrid and electric cars

UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd is looking at the possibility of assembling hybrid and electric cars in Malaysia if there is a demand for such vehicles here, said Toyota Motor Corporation executive vice-president Yukitoshi Funo.

He said the automaker is open to the idea of producing hybrid cars in the country in response to the call by Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed for the Japanese company to set up such a facility here.

Mustapa had said this in his speech at the launch of UMW Toyota’s Integrated Quality Hub (IQH) at Bukit Raja here, yesterday.

Funo said: “At the moment, we have not made up our mind yet, it is still early. This year, I think the (automotive) market in Malaysia is going to be around 600,000 units overall. According to our forecast, hybrid overall volume will be 10,000 units or so. We are going to closely watch how rapidly this market grows.”

Meanwhile, the RM200-million IQH which is part of the company’s RM1 billion investment over three years until 2013, is located on a 35ha site and consists of a centralised vehicle stockyard, accessory centre, test track, body and paint centre, and production parts warehouse.

The facility was built to improve UMW Toyota’s delivery lead time.

UMW Toyota chairman Tan Sri Asmat Kamaludin said: “Previously, Toyota vehicles were stocked at four different locations, with a capacity of only 5,000 vehicles. This new facility has a larger capacity and is able to stock a total of 9,500 vehicles at any one time. It receives and delivers a total of 420 vehicles per day.”

The 2.1km test track includes a 1km straight line that allows vehicles to be tested up to 140kmph while the body and paint centre will have 57 work bays.

The body and paint centre would enhance the company’s after-sales service by the first half of 2012 while the 4.4ha production parts warehouse facility would start operations by the second half of 2012.

UMW Toyota deputy chairman Takashi Hibi said as part of the automaker’s RM1 billion expansion plan, it has allocated RM200 million to launch the locally-assembled Toyota Camry in Malaysia by May or June next year.

He said it is investing in equipment to assemble the Camry, to increase factory capacity and to renew its body and paint facility. It is importing the model from Thailand.

The expansion plan includes increasing the number of dealerships and outlets, refurbishment, relocation, setting up of 3S (sales, service and spare parts) centres to support customers and upgrading plants and equipment.

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