Motor Image, distributor of Subaru vehicles for nine Asian countries including the Philippines, recently celebrated the start of assembly operations for the XV crossover in its plant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The rollout was officiated by Malaysian Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Y. B. Dato’ Mukhriz Tun Mahathir; Glenn Tan, executive director of Tan Chong International Limited, parent company of Motor Image; and executives from Japan’s Fuji Heavy Industries, the manufacturer of Subaru.
The move represents an effort by Motor Image to expand its Subaru business from distribution to assembly. The Kuala Lumpur factory will produce more than 5,000 units of Subaru XV for the Malaysian market, as well as other right-hand-drive markets Indonesia and Thailand. At least 65 percent of the vehicles produced by the Malaysian factory will be for export, with the rest slotted for local deliveries. The XV was selected as the model has seen strong demand from the three markets since its introduction. Motor Image expects revenues in the three markets to increase more than tenfold within the introduction of the Malaysian-assembled vehicles.
Glenn Tan said, “This development is a significant milestone for us as the ability to locally assemble Subaru cars in Malaysia allows us to leverage inter-Asean trade agreements, giving us an advantage in our plans to widen our vehicle distribution network. This initiative also enhances our capabilities and versatility, thus strengthening our presence as a reliable automotive group in Asia.”
Tan also sees the operation as easing the supply of XVs, benefiting left-hand-drive markets and cutting the waiting time for delivery of units.
The assembly operations are part of Motor Image’s aggressive expansion plans, which include: the opening of another 15 sales and distribution outlets in Indonesia in 2012, from seven to 22, and 11 more in 2013; opening 18 outlets in Thailand with four more to open in 2013; from 16 to 23 outlets in Malaysia by the end of 2013; and an increase to 10 outlets in the Philippines this year.
The event marks the first time that Motor Image is assembling Subaru CKD or completely knocked down units, with 40 percent Malaysian content. The Kuala Lumpur factory is a facility that Tan Chong International has been operating since 1977, with a capacity of 7700 Subaru units, and a total capacity of about 20,000 units. The factory also assembles Nissan vehicles such as the Navara pickup.
Subaru enjoys strong demand for its all-wheel drive vehicles throughout the region, with over 13,000 units sold in Asean in 2011. Motor Image introduced Subaru to Singapore 26 years ago in 1986. The company has set up vehicle sales and distribution networks in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Southern China, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.