General Motors Asia Pacific Holdings and Malaysian conglomerate DRB-HICOM on Tuesday said they would establish a joint venture company to "explore the establishment of a local vehicle assembly programme as well as a manufacturing hub for the production of Chevrolet vehicles, parts and accessories" for sale in the 10 countries making up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

GM Asia Pacific said it would hold a 51% stake and DRB-HICOM the remaining 49% in the joint venture, which is expected to begin operations in October, the Associated Press (AP) reported, citing a statement from the two automakers.

"As the largest market for passenger cars in Southeast Asia and a key member of the ASEAN community, Malaysia is a country in which GM believes we must have a major presence," Steve Carlisle, president of GM's Southeast Asia operations, was quoted as saying.

AP noted that DRB-HICOM is already the GM distributor for Malaysia.

After signing the joint venture, the two companies launched the [GM-Daewoo-designed] 1.4-litre Chevrolet Aveo sedan aimed at the young executive market, and priced from the local equivalent of $US19,968 or EUR14,620, the report added.

The report said GM already has operations in Thailand, South Korea, India and China and cited local analysts as saying that the new JV would consolidate the US automaker's position as a key player in Asia's booming automotive market.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam and comprises a community of 550m people, the Associated Press added.