November 11, 2007

Islamic Cars for the Global Market

According to a report in the New Straits Times, Malaysian companies and government officials in a 40-member delegation are touring the Middle East to explore possible joint ventures and to attract investment.

At a dinner last night in Tehran, an interesting plan was announced.

Malaysia, together with Iran and Turkey, plans to produce "Islamic" cars for the global market, according to Proton Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir.

From an idea mooted by Iran, the cars are expected to have Islamic features such as compass, kiblat reading and compartments for keeping the Al-Quran and scarves.

"What they (Iran) want is to call that an Islamic car," he said on the sidelines of a dinner organised by Multimedia Development Corporation here last night.

"They have identified and proposed Iran, Malaysia and Turkey. Why these three countries? I think it's because they are automotive-based."

The compass, kiblat reading apparently points to the direction of Mecca. Regarding a compartment for the Quran and scarves, one would think that the existing glove compartments on cars would suffice since nobody stores gloves in them anymore.

Since I've not heard a crush of complaints about existing vehicles on the roads not being Islamic enough, the venture seems odd. Also, it's not clear whether any market research was performed to determine if people would buy Islamic cars that are priced to make a profit. After all, the Islamic car manufacturers will have to compete with other automobile producers.

On a positive note, however, it's presumed that using an Islamic vehicle for a suicide car bomb mission would be un-Islamic. Anyone doing so would not be met in heaven by 72 virgins, rather Allah would send them to the hereafter to be greeted by 72 burly guys named Goodwrench.

If already chosen, the name of the new vehicle hasn't been made public.

By at 10:07 AM | Comments |