(Bloomberg) -- Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. is bringing its electric vehicles to Malaysia, where it will compete with industry leaders Tesla Inc. and BYD Co. 

The Chinese company unveiled three variants of its Smart #1 EV in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday — the Pro, Premium and Brabus. The Pro starts at 189,000 ringgit ($40,640), rising to 249,000 for the Brabus. Tesla’s Model 3 also starts at 189,000 ringgit in Malaysia and BYD’s Atto is priced from 148,000 ringgit.

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Malaysia’s EV market is small — Fitch forecasts total sales of about 5,840 units this year, up 82% from 2022 and representing a penetration rate of just 1.8%.

Geely is also investing an undisclosed amount in a high-tech automotive city with manufacturing capacities in Tanjung Malim, Perak, where Proton cars are built. Its partner in Smart, Mercedes-Benz Group AG, became the first automaker to locally assemble an EV in Malaysia this year with its EQS model. 

The Smart cars will be distributed by Pro-Net, a unit of Malaysia’s national automaker Proton in which Geely has a 49.9% stake. Pro-Net will also distribute the EVs in Thailand, and take the brand to the east Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah next year as it targets 10% of the country’s EV market share. 

Proton Chief Executive Officer Li Chunrong confirmed in a media briefing Tuesday that the company has ambitions to build its own EV in the future. He didn’t share any other details but added the immediate focus was on getting Smart EVs assembled locally in Malaysia.

--With assistance from Bhuma Shrivastava.

(Updates with Proton CEO’s comments in the last paragraph.)

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