Toyota plans to tap regional FTAs

The Star, Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday February 21, 2006

Toyota plans to tap regional FTAs

By NICK LEONG

KUALA LUMPUR: Toyota Motor Corp Japan is re-strategising its position in Malaysia to take advantage of free trade agreements (FTAs) signed between the countries in the region.

Senior managing director Datuk Akira Okabe said the world’s second largest car manufacturer saw potential not just in assembling cars in the country but also in sourcing and supplying of parts.

“This morning, we had a serious meeting with the Finance Ministry. I cannot tell the details but now, we are rethinking our position about how to use Malaysia,” he told StarBiz after the launching of Toyota’s latest outlet, Esteem Growth Sdn Bhd, yesterday.

He said Toyota welcomed competition created by the FTAs, adding that it was good for the car industry and parts suppliers.

Okabe said Malaysia was a significant market for the company although it had its regional manufacturing hub in Thailand.

“Maybe this year or next year, we will have sales volume exceeding 100,000 units, which is not so small!

“In Thailand, we produce above 200,000 units (a year) because (we) export to the Middle East and regional countries,” he said.

Okabe said Toyota would introduce new models to the country this year to maintain its market share.

UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd managing director David Chen said the company’s share of the local market was 16% last year.

“We aim to maintain our market share by expanding our dealership and production.

“As market density grows, we will have more than one dealership in an area,” he said, adding that UMW Toyota had 56 dealers and 93 outlets nationwide.

Chen said the company sold about 91,000 Toyota vehicles last year, with the popular Avanza contributing about 30,000 units.

He said UMW Toyota’s plant in Shah Alam produced about 60,000 units, with the balance produced by sister company Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd.

Asked if the company was holding talks with Volkswagen AG to produce Volkswagen cars in Malaysia, he said UMW Toyota only produced Toyotas for the local market.

Fuente: The Star