Summary: Malaysia's automotive market is young, but growing. Much like Korea's market was just a generation ago, Malaysia's auto industry is poised to debut on the world scene. Naza and Proton are two names worth remembering; at least one is likely to export its cars to the American market some day.
Malaysia does not conjure up thoughts with car enthusiasts as being an automotive powerhouse. Indeed, many of the cars built in this burgeoning Southeast Asian nation are manufactured in cooperation with more known brands including Volkswagen and Kia. That may all be changing soon as Malaysia's top auto manufacturers start building more models containing their own content. One manufacturer, Naza Automotive Manufacturing, is doing just that by releasing a pair of models this month that will be Malaysian designed and will utilize local materials. How could this move prove to be important to American motorists? Well, just as several Chinese manufacturers have designs on bringing cheaply priced cars to the U.S., Malaysian automakers may soon follow. Likely, you have never heard of Naza, but keep an eye on the world auto scene as Naza and at least one other Malaysian automaker, Proton, rush to develop cars explicitly designed for the lucrative U.S. market.
Naza, is not likely to be a name easily forgotten, but for two different reasons: the first, is the automaker's similarity to "Nazi" and the second, because the company will soon be building its own cars for the expanding Malaysian market. Previously, Kia cars were the company's chief product built, with a Peugeot model also planned for release. Now, according to corporate sources, the company will be building two of its own models, a 1.1L powered car called the NX01 and a slightly larger model, the NX02.
Despite the similarity to the notorious word Nazi, the company is also known as NAM and could use that latter name for export once capacity has been met for the home market. NAM officials, along with its chief national competitor, Proton, will certainly be studying the coming release of Chinese cars to the American market. If Chinese cars are successful abroad, look for NAM and Proton models built at newly created Malaysian manufacturing plants to be exported as well. This move could put additional price pressure on the U.S. market as another source of cheaply priced cars enters our market. At the same time, Malaysia could use the financial boost of exporting a potentially lucrative product overseas.
Yes, the American automotive market is changing as is Malaysia's auto industry. Perhaps, Ford or GM will work with Naza and help bring in certain models to fill out their own lines. More than likely this won't happen and Naza will go it alone. Regardless, American consumers are likely to benefit in the form of more choices and with low new car prices at least in the entry level segment.