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Tan Chong May Defer Japan Electric Car Imports After Quake

Tan Chong Motor Holdings Bhd., a Malaysian car assembler and distributor, said it may put off plans to start importing Nissan Motor Co. electric cars this year after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami caused damage to the Japanese automaker’s plants.

“Because of the tsunami and earthquake, it may be delayed for another one or two years,” Ang Bon Beng, executive director of Edaran Tan Chong Motor Sdn., the Malaysian company’s distribution arm, told reporters in Selangor today.

Production of Nissan’s Leaf electric car and lithium-ion batteries have resumed in Oppama, but the ability to sustain production will depend on rolling blackouts due to electricity shortages, the company said yesterday. Nissan, Toyota Motor Corp., and Honda Motor Co. are working to restart domestic output following the magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11 that killed more than 9,800 people and damaged factories.

Vehicle assemblers and distributors are waiting to assess the fallout from Japan’s disaster on supplies, Aishah Ahmad, president of the Malaysian Automotive Association told reporters in Selangor today. The Southeast Asian nation appears to have no shortage of demand for vehicles.

“The economy is showing a good growth,” Aishah said. “The confidence level is high, interest rates are very competitive and there are new models coming into Malaysia. There is also a backlog of new orders.”

The association is maintaining its sales forecast of 618,000 units this year for the time-being. This figure may be reviewed in June or July as circumstances develop, Aishah said.

“Most of our members have also been sourcing from other parts of the world, not only from Japan,” she said. “We will only know later when the true assessment of how badly the impact has affected the respective brands.”

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