A Malaysian market research company predicts Renault will be among the first automakers to set up a plant in the country to produce energy- efficient vehicles.

AmResearch says it believes Renault will get the first EEV license under the government’s plan to turn Malaysia into a hybrid- and electric-vehicles hub in the ASEAN regional trade bloc.

“The rest are likely to be General Motors, Great Wall and Hyundai, based on our best guesses,” the report says.

“Auto parts players are the broader beneficiaries of the potential entries of all four new foreign OEMs, on top of new investments into EEV production lines by existing OEMs. We think a form of consolidation in the industry to improve cost efficiency and product range is worth watching out for this year.”

The Star newspaper coverage of the AmResearch report adds that Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed says the government will issue EEV manufacturing licenses by April in line with the National Automotive Policy announced in January.

It says AmResearch cites past meetings with regulators and players to suggest the government had been in talks with four foreign OEMs to set up bases in Malaysia.

“(Renault distributor) Tan Chong Motor Holdings is the immediate beneficiary of Renault’s entry,” the research house says. “However, we think that initial production volume may not be meaningful, estimated at 300 units per month, which is 2% of Nissan’s total Malaysia sales,”

AmResearch says it expects Tan Chong to build the Renault EEVs at its underutilized Segambut plant.