DRB-HICOM to turn Tanjong Malim into regional automotive smart hub

DRB-HICOM Berhad recently launched the development plan of Automotive Hi-Tech Valley (“AHTV”) at Tanjong Malim, marking the momentous start of a high impact major project envisioned to boost the National automotive industry. Emphasising on new technologies and systems in global automotive industries, namely electrification, Artificial Intelligence (A.I), autonomous technologies and advanced connectivity, AHTV is envisioned to be an automotive industry hub for the ASEAN region.

The launch was officiated by Prime Minister, YAB Dato' Sri Ismail Sabri Bin Yaakob. Also present were Perak Menteri Besar YAB Dato’ Seri Saarani Mohamad, Minister of Finance, YB Senator Tengku Datuk Seri Utama Raja Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz and other government officials. DRB-HICOM Chairman Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin and DRB-HICOM Group Managing Director Dato’ Sri Syed Faisal Albar were also present.

The development of AHTV is aimed at embracing the changing landscape of the world’s automotive industry with an integrated ecosystem that will be a catalyst to revitalise domestic automotive sector in line with the direction of the National Automotive Policy (“NAP”) 2020. This is to ensure that Malaysia's automotive industry continues to be on par, if not more advanced, than in neighbouring countries. With the right systems, infrastructure and stakeholder support in place, AHTV will be well positioned to attract investments from industry players in the region, spurring the growth and capability of the local automotive industry.

At the ceremony, the Prime Minister also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding related to AHTV. DRB-HICOM and the Perak State Government signed an MOU to jointly identify suitable additional land in the area to be earmarked for AHTV.  The current area surrounding the PROTON Tanjong Malim plant measures 4,000 acres with most already occupied by Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, existing vendors, as commercial premises and as residential properties. The additional land will be focussed for AHTV development, including a research university.

DRB-HICOM has also signed another MOU for AHTV, with Geely Holding Group. The MOU with PROTON’s shareholder, signed on-line on 11 April 2022, is to jointly develop AHTV and collaborate to identify vendors and investors to the hub. The involvement of DRB-HICOM’s strategic partner for national carmaker PROTON, Geely Holding Group, which is known for their technological strength in the automotive ecosystem, is a boost for AHTV. This can be an impetus for auto and component manufacturers, especially from China to invest in local production facilities, to create a new business and export opportunities. Essentially, AHTV has the potential as a gateway to ASEAN & OIC markets for companies that make it as their base. There are already 17 vendors operating within the area.

To boost the automotive talent pipeline, AHTV will also see the setting up of a research university. This will create an educational framework to nurture a new generation of engineers for the automotive industry in areas of Engineering, IT, Design, Artificial Intelligence, Mobility Solutions & Software Development. This will strengthen local research and Development (“R&D”) capabilities and ensure competitiveness of local original equipment manufacturers (“OEMs”). The establishment of an automotive-based research university augur well for Malaysia, as the industry surges ahead with Next Generation Vehicles (“NxGV”) and Mobility-as-a-Service (“MaaS”).

In its development stage, some 370,000 job opportunities are expected to be created at the AHTV site next to the PROTON manufacturing facility in Tajong Malim. Once completed, in Phase 1, the hub will offer more than 160,000 job opportunities to the area, contributing to the economy of Perak Darul Ridzuan and the country.