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Friday February 5, 2010

Berjaya, China’s BYD sign MoU for car-making venture

By FINTAN NG


fintan@thestar.com.my

SHENZHEN: Berjaya Corp Bhd and China’s BYD Auto Co Ltd yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore the possibility of building the latter’s F0 1-litre passenger car for South-East Asian markets.

The F0 is currently retailing for US$5,000 to US$7,000 in China.

Shenzhen-based BYD is an auto and battery manufacturer listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and was the fourth-largest automaker by sales volume in China last year, with more than 450,000 units sold.

The company, which is present in 77 markets globally, is targeting to sell 800,000 units this year.

The MoU, which was signed by Berjaya executive director Datuk Francis Lee and BYD senior director Henry Li, was witnessed by Berjaya chairman and chief executive officer Tan Sri Vincent Tan and BYD chairman and president Wang Chuanfu.

The terms of the agreement included a feasibility study on the conversion of the F0’s left-hand drive version to a right-hand drive version together with related research and development as well as having Berjaya as the distributor of the vehicles.

Both parties would also cooperate in setting up a manufacturing plant near Rawang where Berjaya has set aside a 100-acre site for the project.

Berjaya’s Lee said at an earlier media briefing that the collaboration, which would involve a new manufacturing license for petroleum-based passenger cars, was subject to Government approval.

This is because under the current National Automotive Policy, the Government has frozen licenses for the manufacture of petroleum-based vehicles under 1.8 litres.

He said there was “a strong case” for the Government to approve the manufacturing license as the deal would be the first step towards making Malaysia the regional hub for BYD’s right hand-based passenger cars.

“Hopefully this will get us to something more in the future as the joint venture will bring jobs, new technology and broaden our range of car brands,” Lee said, adding that BYD was also a manufacturer of dual-mode (hybrid) and pure electric vehicles.

Besides the F0 and F3 compact passenger cars, BYD is in the process of rolling out the e6, an all-electric passenger vehicle retailing at US$40,000 to US$45,000.

Lee said the future plant would be initially for petroleum-based vehicles but would be expanded to include BYD’s new-energy vehicles at a later stage.

He added that the agreement was for six months but expected to have something concluded soon.


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