Malaysia will collaborate with Japan’s Daihatsu Motor to develop a third national car with the first model expected to be ready by 2021, according to Malaysian international trade and industry minister Darell Leiking.

Speaking at the announcement of the joint venture, Darell said the venture would boost local businesses by allowing them to become a part of the supply chain for the high value automobile industry, Xinhua news agency reported.

“This will create new opportunities for local vendors and talent to be part of the high technology value chain.

“Most importantly, local businesses are able to explore activities that are in demand in the future, in a conducive environment, minimising risks associated with the high investment when such operations are supplied locally at the infancy stage,” Darell said.

He revealed innovative technology and solutions provider, DreamEDGE, had been chosen as the anchor company for the project as it possessed the capability to deliver engineering projects, with prior experience in oil and gas, rail, defence and ship building.

The car will be developed by Malaysian engineers with the technology support of Daihatsu.

In a presentation during the launch, Darell emphasised the car would be affordable to the public and would be a new model incorporating advanced technologies and a modular design focusing on handling qualities and human-machine interface.

He added that the project would be privately funded but the company was eligible to apply for grants from the government.

The third national car comes after Malaysia successfully manufactured two national cars with Proton being the first in 1983 followed by Perodua in 1992.

Proton had been bailed out several times with the latest being in 2016 at the cost of 1.5bn ringgit (US$360m) before partnering with China’s Geely in 2017 and has since posted profits especially after the introduction of its jointly produced X70 Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV).

Prime minister Mahathir Mohamad had previously stressed that the third national car would be a privately funded initiative, following criticism after he mooted the idea shortly after winning the national polls in May last year.

Mahathir also stressed that the third national car project is not just about making a car, but also utilising the talent pool and resources in the country to create an ecosystem in which entrepreneurs and industries can thrive.