KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad revived his decades-long efforts to create a strong homegrown car brand by picking a local company to spearhead the project, with some help from Japan.
Malaysian digital engineering services DreamEDGE will lead the plan in collaboration with Daihatsu Motor, Minister of International Trade and Industry Darell Leiking said on Friday.
The government will not fund the project and will only help with licensing, Leiking said.
The company is looking at building a sedan as its debut model with either a pure combustion engine or a hybrid powertrain, DreamEDGE CEO Khairil Adri Adnan said.
This is not the first time Mahathir has promoted such a partnership. In the 1980s, Proton Holdings and Perodua partnered with Japanese automakers as part Mahathir's "Look East" policy which looked to Japan as the model for Malaysia's industrialization.
The premier announced the latest plan for a national car project a month after returning to power last year.
The DreamEDGE/Daihatsu tie-up will begin production in 2021, with the hiring of engineers set to start in the middle of next month, Leiking said.