Perodua to unveil new model on March 3

The D55L opened for bookings last week with only details of the features revealed, while its looks and name remain a secret

by ASILA JALIL / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

PERUSAHAAN Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) will launch what is said to be the most advanced model D55L, on March 3.

Building anticipation among the public ahead of the launch, Perodua has opened for bookings since last week with only details of the features revealed, but its looks and name remain a secret.

Acknowledging the attention given to the new model, Perodua president and CEO Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad (picture) told the media that everything will be revealed next week around 8.30pm during the official premier on its social media platforms.

The Malaysian Reserve had the opportunity to test drive the new car recently during an exclusive media preview and it is suffice to say that the new model would excite everyone especially the youth.

The new model scores points with its height which is built slightly higher than the Myvi with ample leg room for the front and rear passengers.

Last week, the group stated that among the new model’s headlining feature is the Advanced Safety Assist, which has higher operating speeds than the current version and is capable of detecting two-wheeled vehicles to avoid collision.

Also available on all variants — X, H, AV — is Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, while the AV has Lane Keep Control, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Adaptive Cruise Control.

The car maintained its sturdiness during the test drive on uneven roads.

The cruise control which was also tested on the parabolic curve test track did not disappoint as the D55L glided on smoothly without making its occupants feel like the car would topple.

When asked why Perodua decided to launch a new model despite the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, Zainal Abidin said more unemployment would take place if the group chose to move according to the economic situation in the country.

“After discussions with Perodua’s management team, we decided to approach the matter differently and try help the industry during this trying time.

“We are launching a new model now to ensure jobs will be created as vendors, the ecosystem and country need to survive,” he said.

For its capital expenditure (capex) this year, he said the group has estimated RM1.2 billion, which will be deployed mostly on research and development (R&D), model development and expansion of sales.

The actual capex for 2020 stood at RM620 million due to Covid-19, although the group had planned for it to reach RM1.06 billion.

He said the group has deferred some of the investments namely on R&D, which will be between RM250 million and RM300 million.

He added that the group will focus on design centre and digitalisation under its R&D plans. For digitalisation, Zainal Abidin said Perodua’s virtual reality centre will be commissioned soon.

“As the new technology in terms of R&D develops along with digitalisation, we have to follow this (trend) and hopefully, we can be recognised as one of the R&D hubs in the group,” he said.

He explained that last year the group developed the new test track, which fulfils the requirement of the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure protocol testing and is the first in the country.

Zainal Abidin also said the group has been in discussions with the government regarding the production of electric vehicles (EVs) in the country.

Two factors were highlighted, namely the environmental and technology factors if Perodua decided to go for EV production.

“In terms of the environment, we have to see the overall ecosystem and how the energy is being generated. We have conducted a study and right now between 70% and 80% of energy in Malaysia is derived from coal.

“If we produce EVs and simultaneously burn more coal to supplement this, then it would not be the best.

“Based on the current situation, the best system with the available infrastructure in the country would be hybrid cars as it could reduce consumption of coal,” he said.

He added that the direction, which the group is heading towards right now, is to ensure the use of fuel in its vehicles is low. He did not state whether Perodua would lean towards EV or hybrid.