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Malaysia PM floats new national car project

AFP  |  Tokyo 

Malaysia's today floated the possibility of a national car project, despite the problems of a similar endeavour started during his previous term decades ago.

"We need to go back to the idea of a national car," he told a press conference on his first foreign trip since his shock election last month.

"Our ambition is to start another national car, perhaps with some help from our partners in .. we want to access the world market," he said earlier, at a forum in

The national car has a troubled history in Malaysia, which from 1983 produced the as part of then-Mahathir's ambitious national industrialisation plan.

The brand had a reputation for unimaginative models and shoddy quality and ended up being privatised, with Chinese taking a major stake in 2017.

Mahathir appeared to brush aside that history on Monday, saying would "seek support and expertise from other countries" in looking once again to produce its own cars.

He said had "most of the skills and technologies in regard to the design and production of a new car" thanks to two decades of cooperation with Japan's

"However there are certain parts of a car which are extremely expensive to develop. We will want to source some of those expensive parts from other countries, including of course from " Malaysia's state investment arm sold its stake in to a and importer in 2012, but the auto firm continued to struggle, despite several high-profile tie-ups with major automakers.

Mahathir served as of until 2016, and his continued involvement in the firm drew criticism from then-Najib Razak, who was defeated in last month's election.

In 2016 the approved a bailout package worth $384 million for the struggling company but warned it would not continue to throw money at the firm.

Last year China's bought a 49.9 percent stake in Proton after a bidding process that saw companies including French carmaker express interest.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, June 11 2018. 15:15 IST