Monday, November 12, 2007

New 'Islamic car' to have compass to find Mecca

Malaysia, Iran and Turkey plan to build an "Islamic car" fitted with a compass to find the direction of Mecca, and a compartment to keep the Koran in, the Malaysian state news agency said.

Malaysian automaker Proton's managing director Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said during a visit to Tehran that the vehicle would be aimed at the global export market.

"We will identify a car that we can develop to be produced in Malaysia, Iran or Turkey," he told the Bernama agency in a weekend report.

"The car will have all the Islamic features and should be meant for export purposes," he said, adding that it would feature a compartment for keeping the Muslim holy book the Koran, and prayer scarves.

Syed Zainal said the vehicle was an Iranian initiative.

"What they (Iran) want to do is to call that an Islamic car," he said, giving no further details.

Proton announced last week that it had won an order to supply 5,000 units of its compact Waja model to be used as taxis in Tehran as part of the city's 200 million dollar public transport renewal initiative.

Proton has been trying to kickstart its export market as it attempts to halt a sharp decline in domestic market share and stem a series of losses -- attributed to a lack of new models and a reputation for poor quality.

It is in negotiations with German auto giant Volkswagen over an alliance that it hopes could turn its fortunes around.