Celebrating 60 years of Malaysia: a brief history of Perodua

It’s Malaysia Day! To celebrate how far our nation has come in the 60 years since the formation of our federation, we will look at the history of one of the nation’s most beloved car brands: Perodua. Used by Malaysians of every race and creed, it is hard to deny the impact Perodua has on Malaysia. Let’s take a look at Perodua’s history from its humble beginnings all the way to the present as the largest national automotive manufacturer.


1993: Inception and foundation

Founded in 1993, Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) is the nation’s second car manufacturer. Initially given the codename “M2”, Perodua partnered with Daihatsu to produce hatchbacks. One year later, then PM Mahathir officiated the opening of the first factory on 1st August 1994 to produce…

1994: The Perodua Kancil

Perodua Kancil, Mahathir
Then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamad enters a Kancil while Perodua chairman Raja Tun Mohar Raja Badiozaman watches. Source.

Named after the tenacious and intelligent native mouse deer, the hatchback rolling off Perodua’s first factory was an instant hit. With a price tag starting from a low RM25,000 (RM48,538.23 in 2023), the Kancil was easily the cheapest car in Malaysia when it made its debut in 1994. In total, 8880 units of the affordable hatchback were sold in the five months of 1994 since it began operations. Perodua would then continue to sell nearly 40,000 units of the Kancil in 1995, nearly five times as many as the previous year!

As the nation grew wealthy in the early 1990s, the government expanded the role of the private sector in providing higher education. This drew in many students who moved away from home for the first time and crucially needed a car. Their choice would naturally be the extremely affordable Kancil. Therefore, by the time it was discontinued in 2010, Perodua had sold 725,870 units! Talk about a bestseller!

Late 1990s: Diversification

Although initially making only hatchbacks, Perodua did not limit itself to them. Two years after launching the Kancil, Perodua launched the Rusa microvan in 1996, allegedly with input from Tun Mahathir himself. The 7-seater van remained in production until 2007 when it was discontinued.

Perodua Kembara

A few years later in 1998, Perodua launched the Kembara SUV. Stylish and affordable, the Kembara quickly dominated the 4×4 market, capturing 71% of total 4×4 sales with 10,888 units sold. Perodua even entered the Trans Borneo Expedition in 1998 and 1999 with 6 Kembaras. The next year, Perodua became the main sponsor of the event named the Perodua Trans Borneo Kembara Expedition. 12 Kembaras represented the company traversing 2,000km of off-road terrain from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu in 10 days. Despite the initial success, the Kembara was discontinued in 2006.

Over the next decade, Perodua’s market share steadily increased. But it won’t become the market leader until the next car hits the market.

2005: Myvi world

Myvi launch Najib
Then Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak with a Myvi at the JW Marriott Hotel. Source.

Look at any Malaysian road and chances are you’d spot Malaysia’s most popular car, the Myvi. Also known as the king of the road, the Myvi is a fuel-saving compact hatchback first launched in 2005. Since then, it dominated the Malaysian market, quickly becoming the best-selling car in the country for 12 years between 2006 to 2017! This also allowed Perodua to quickly capture 42% of the market and become the largest car manufacturer.

This car is so popular, that it is also sold in foreign countries like Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Brunei, Singapore, the UK, Fiji and the Seychelles. The Myvi also became the first Malaysian car to sell over 1 million units in 2017, beating the Kancil by a country mile. With numbers like these, it is no surprise Perodua became the largest carmaker in the country.

Want to understand how the Myvi became so popular? Book a test drive today!

2009: Increasing seating

Perodua Alza
Then Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin during the launch of the Perodua Alza. Source.

If you expected Perodua to rest on their laurels once they cornered the market, think again! In November 2009, Perodua launched the Alza, a three-row, 7-seater MPV, nearly 15 years after the Kancil and 2 years after the 7-seater Rusa was discontinued. It is theorised to be timed to coincide with the time late 90s when Kancil customers started having larger families and therefore needed a bigger car. Regardless of its veracity, the Alza received an incredible 18,000 bookings in the last two months of 2009.

Check out our inventory of Alzas!

2016: First sedan

Perodua Bezza
Advertisements for the Perodua Bezza. Source.

The Bezza is Perodua’s first sedan launched in 2016, 23 years after the company began operations in 1993. It is a major milestone as it was the first car that was fully designed in-house and not based on any existing Daihatsu model. The leap of faith Perodua took paid off as the RM37,000 Bezza was an immediate commercial success, selling 36,000 units within the second half of 2016.

2019: SUV-persizing

Perodua Aruz
Art of the Perodua Aruz. Source.

In January 2019, the Perodua Aruz was launched. Although this is not the first time Perodua produced an SUV, this will be the first SUV Perodua has on the market since it discontinued the Kembara a decade prior. Starting at RM72,900, the seven-seater SUV was an instant hit, reaching 25,000 bookings in just six short months.

Check out our Aruz listing!

2018: Proton strikes back!

Proton X70 Launch
Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad passing the keys to the X70 to his wife Siti Hasmah, mirroring the launch of the Saga in 1985. Source.

Although Proton had fallen from its position as the biggest automaker in Malaysia, the company was reinvigorated by the strategic alliance with Geely. The joint venture, Proton Holdings Bhd., quickly pumped out a series of X-prefixed cars, namely the X70 (2018), followed by the X50 (2020) and now the X90 (2023).

All three cars are commercial successes. The X70 has been the best-selling C-segment SUV for four years in a row while the X50 was so well received that it became the best-selling SUV! As of June 2023, the X90 received 5,000 bookings. This heralds a comeback by Proton as the company corners the SUV market, even as Perodua continues to grow its market share and remains the market leader.

Test drive our X50s and X70s and see for yourself how they became so popular.

Read more about how Proton went from the largest Malaysian automaker to the underdog!

2023: A new national favourite?

Fuel efficient Perodua Bezza

Perodua’s first sedan, the Perodua Bezza, continued to do well over the years. As e-hailing grew, so too did Bezza sales as the growing number of e-hailing drivers saw great utility in owning a car with a fuel-saving engine, spacious interior and large 508-litre boot. These features helped it dethrone the Myvi as best selling car with 40,555 units registered between January and June of 2023. The Myvi however, is still going strong, with 32,319 units registered.

You too could be a happy owner of a Bezza! Browse our inventory for the right one for you!

2023: Back to basics

Perodua Axia E
Perodua president and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Ahmad (right), Perodua Auto Corporation Sdn Bhd president Masaki Ogita (left) and Perodua chairman Tan Sri Asmat Kamaludin (second from left). Source.

Perodua started out as a manufacturer of cheap cars. The Kancil when it first debuted cost RM25,000 (RM48,538.23 in 2023). Now even the Myvi’s little brother, the Axia, starts from RM38,600. That is why the Axia E was launched. Priced at an affordable RM22,000, the car’s target buyers are motorcycle riders, driving schools, and those in lower-income brackets.

Perodua Axia E interior
The basic dashboard of the Axia E. Notice the simple display and missing radio.

This price tag, however, means that the Axia E is bereft of many functions and features many would consider standard. These include the lack of reverse sensors, anti-lock braking systems, a reduced dashboard display, and does not even have radio and speakers.

As of writing, Perodua has come a very long way, starting as a tiny automaker to slowly becoming the country’s largest. Although not an underdog anymore, Perodua is not content with resting on its laurels and still has a lot of wind in her sails. As Perodua is poised to capture more of the market, how Perodua will challenge Proton’s newfound dominance in the SUV market is something to keep an eye on.

Which national brand is better?

If you are thinking of getting one of the nation’s most popular car brands, browse our list of myTukar Certified Perodua cars that are as good as new. Every one of these myTukar Certified cars has undergone a thorough 160-point inspection and refurbishment to ensure they are as good as new.

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