Ford is to begin assembly of the Ford Transit van in Malaysia beginning early next year.

The vans, to be built in collaboration with Sime Darby Auto Connexion at Sime Darby's Inokom facility in Kulim, Kedah, 215 miles (340 km) south of Kuala Lumpur, will be sold domestically.

Ford says in a statement the Inokom facility has passed stringent evaluations and quality standards set by its engineering and manufacturing teams to ensure the plant meets Ford-certified specifications.

“This new collaboration with SDAC for local vehicle assembly builds on the strength of our long-term partnership and reaffirms Ford's commitment to the Malaysian market,” David Westerman, Ford regional manager-Asia Pacific Emerging Markets Group, says in a statement.

“Local assembly of the Transit will help build our strategic growth plan for Malaysia and allow us to introduce another global Ford vehicle.”

The Transit will be Ford’s entry into another vehicle segment in Malaysia and will build on the automaker’s expanding lineup. Ford sales have surged more than 75% this year and its market share in the country has nearly doubled.

Sime Darby Malaysia region Managing Director Dennis Ho says the collaboration on local assembly of the Transit is the latest evidence of the company’s partnership with Ford. “It also represents our continued investment in the development and success of the Malaysian automotive industry,” he says.

The Transit is available in two high-roof variants, the 13-seat Bus Van 370L and Panel Van 350L, both powered by a 2.2L TDCi engine mated with a 6-speed manual transmission.

Ford says it will donate the first Transit to roll off the Inokom assembly line to a charitable organization in Kedah as part of its commitment to investing in the communities where it conducts business.

In neighboring Thailand, the Ford EcoSport B-segment CUV will create a new class below compact SUVs when sales start Nov. 28 at the 30th Thailand International Motor Expo.

It will be joined in the new segment by the Nissan Juke, which the Bangkok Post reports will be previewed to the media Nov 26.

Both automakers say their vehicles are aimed at urban motorists seeking a stylish vehicle with a high-riding body and compact dimensions.

Ford is building the EcoSport locally at its factory in Rayong province, while Nissan is using benefits offered through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Free Trade Agreement to import the Juke from Indonesia.

The newspaper says Honda plans to build a rival to the two new CUVs next year at its new Thai factory in Prachin Buri province. The Honda vehicle will debut Nov. 20 in Japan after being previewed last year as an urban concept.