Mercedes-Benz has a long and rich heritage in Malaysia going all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century when the Sultan of Johore bought his first Mercedes-Benz. Official sales of Mercedes-Benz vehicles began in 1951 with Cycle & carriage as the franchise distributor. Today, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, E-Class and S-Class passenger cars are locally assembled, as are commercial vehicle bus chassis and prime movers. Other niche models like the A-Class, M-Class, C-Class Sport Coupe, CLK and SL are fully imported.
As one of the world's leading automotive companies, DaimlerChrysler AG (DCAG) has identified the huge potential in the Malaysian market for its products and services. We are confident that the pro-business policies of the Malaysian government and Malaysian's strong macroeconomic framework, robust GDP growth and cost competitiveness will continue to offer attractive investment opportunities and high returns for foreign investors.
Daimler Chrysler Malaysia Sdn Bhd was incorporated in January 2003 as a joint venture between DCAG and Cycle & Carriage Bintang Bhd with an investment of approximately RM134 million and DCAG as the majority shareholder. The newly-established DaimlerChrysler Malaysia Sdn Bhd manages the wholesale distribution of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, commercial vehicles and spare parts in Malaysia as well as provides software development services for global sales solutions and automotive apprentice training. We have expanded our brand portfolio to include the wholesale distribution of smart passenger cars, Maybach passenger cars and Mitsubishi Fuso Commercial Vehicles. DaimlerChrysler Malaysia's 250 employees with their unique skills and creativity provide the high-quality workmanship expected by our customers. With a well-developed infrastructure and an educated and productive workforce in place, the company is set to take the Mercedes-Benz brand and heritage to newer heights.
Another significant project for a joint assembly operation with DRB-Hicom has resulted in an investment of approximately RM100 million to set up the new Benchmark assembly facility in Pekan, Kuantan. Being the number one assembly location in Malaysia this operation aims to produce vehicles of the highest quality and the biggest range of locally-assembled models.
Malaysia offers numerous advantages to investors. The Malaysian government is committed to improving the investment environment in the country especially its continuous support and efforts in developing the country as one of the automotive hubs in the ASEAN region. We have made the right decision to invest in Malaysia and we look forward to further expanding our investments to complement the growth of Malaysia's automotive industry.