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LDV Group announces partnership with Malaysia’s Weststar Group

13th April 2007 Print
Light commercial vehicle specialist LDV is set to enter Far East markets with the announcement that it’s to collaborate with Malaysia’s Weststar Group.

The new British-Malaysia product partnership will see LDV and Weststar develop the light commercial vehicle market with LDV’s MAXUS range of products in 20 countries beginning in Vietnam and Indonesia, followed by other Asean countries, Australia, New Zealand and the Gulf Co-operation Council states.

Weststar LDV Sdn Bhd has secured exclusive rights as franchise holder and will market, assemble, distribute and service the full range of LDV Maxus light commercial vehicles in the 20 countries.

The announcement marks the first time a Malaysian company has acquired the rights to assemble a current world-class model and distribute it beyond Malaysia’s shores under its own brand name.

Speaking at the vehicles’ rollout, Dato’ Seri Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim, managing director of Weststar LDV said: “Asia’s economic rise has resulted in the over-production of passenger cars and under-investment in light commercial vehicles. Demand is at a high point across the countries we serve, and rapidly rising.

“Our entry point, with demand outpacing supply, means that we may need to ramp up production and make cross-supply arrangements to fill gaps in the supply of light commercial vehicles across the 20 countries we operate in.

“In one stroke, this British-Malaysia partnership creates a multi-country opening for us while falling in step with Malaysia’s National Automotive Policy, which is to have our auto industry footprint spanning the region.”

Steve Young, LDV’s UK chief executive said the new partnership was another positive step forward for the van maker: “When GAZ International purchased LDV in 2006, we said that our ambitions were to take the LDV MAXUS range across the globe. Our partnership with Weststar reflects this ambition.”

In Malaysia, the Weststar LDV Maxus range will be assembled in Pekan, Pahang, and undergo a post-assembly fit-out in the Klang Valley. The initial production run will be 600 units this year.

Syed Azman said: “We are off to a good start in Malaysia. To date, we have sold a good number of units and secured healthy orders for our first batch of vehicles. Government agencies, institutions and services providers have expressed keen interest to purchase our vehicles.

“Our studies have shown that demand by the public sector, businesses and institutions for specialised and high capacity carriers is set to climb dramatically over the next decade as the government continues to push for wider industrial development.”

According to research firm Frost & Sullivan, light commercial vehicles commanded half of the Malaysian commercial vehicle sales and continued to support a wide range of applications across industries.

The research firm said that the commercial vehicle market reached 50,098 units in 2005 and this would likely increase to 69,302 units in 2012 at a compound annual growth rate of 4.7 per cent.

As for immediate expansion, Weststar LDV has identified Vietnam and Indonesia as new markets, each of which has a large population base and equally fast growing economies.

“We are looking at working with assembly plant owners in these two countries and we expect to kick off initial production of 600 units in each country by the fourth quarter of the year,” said Syed Azman.

The vehicles can be fitted out with special equipment by local sub contractors skilled in customising vehicle functionality.

“Our vehicles currently have 18 per cent local content, and we intend to move this up to 40 per cent by year end. In this respect, our presence will provide a platform for Malaysia’s growing pool of automotive vendors to develop and supply specialised equipment and components which is a lucrative niche,” concluded Syed Azman.