As our first national car brand, PROTON holds a special place in the hearts of Malaysians. Over the years, PROTON has produced numerous vehicles, from the iconic PROTON Saga to hatchbacks like the PROTON Iriz and SUVs like the PROTON X50. Throughout the years, it is the constant improvements and investments in technological advancements that has made PROTON what it is today, and what it aspires to become in the future.
The company, who signed a partnership agreement with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd, has benefited greatly from the tie up. The partnership with Geely has provided PROTON with the economies of scale and access to new technology – Geely owns the premium brand Volvo and has a huge R&D division. PROTON will be able to incorporate the new technology from Geely into its cars.
In fact, Geely has invested heavily on the expansion of the PROTON Tanjung Malim Manufacturing Plant in Perak to fully utilize its capacity to the fullest. With 60-percent of the line being automated, the Tanjung Malim plant has an annual production capacity of 150,000 vehicles which can be increased to 1 million.
With Geely’s assistance, PROTON has produced two brand new models: the PROTON X70 in 2019 and the X50 in 2020. The X70 is a C-segment SUV based on the Geely Boyue. While it is a rebadge, the X70 had various styling and handling inputs from PROTON to make it a car with a Malaysian identity. The X70 was initially fully imported from China but it has been locally assembled since February 2020.
The second vehicle to come out of the PROTON and Geely partnership is the PROTON X50, launched on 27 October 2020. It is a B-segment SUV based on the Geely Binyue, also with styling and handling inputs from PROTON. It is also fully locally assembled with locally-made parts making up 40 percent of the vehicle. Both the PROTON X70 and X50 have an overall five-star ANCAP safety rating, advanced wet dual-clutch transmission (DCT), and turbocharged engines co-developed by Geely and Volvo.
The latest vehicle in PROTON’s lineup is a proven bestseller, as the PROTON X50 set a new monthly sales volume record and grabbed the title of best-selling vehicle in Malaysia for July 2022. This achievement ensures PROTON retains its position as the leader in the hotly contested SUV segment and is also the first time such a vehicle has led the overall market in sales volume.
The future looks bright for PROTON, as PROTON CEO Dr Li Chunrong has revealed that the automaker will be developing high-tech cars and new energy vehicles soon, following the launch of the Automotive Hi-Tech Valley (AHTV) at Tanjung Malim. DRB-HICOM’s vision is for this area to be an automotive industry hub for the ASEAN region, providing the right systems, infrastructure and stakeholder support to ensure that Malaysia’s automotive industry continues to be on par, if not more advanced, than in neighbouring countries.
PROTON looks to be following in the footsteps of other international automakers around the world in developing new energy vehicles (NEVs), which consist of plug-in hybrid, full electric and fuel cell vehicles. This is collaborated by PROTON deputy CEO Roslan Abdullah also revealing that the company has a roadmap towards introducing hybrid, PHEVs and EVs, set to be launched in 2027.
PROTON’s involvement in the DRB-HICOM Automotive Hi-Tech Valley is a “high impact major project” that puts focus on new technologies and systems in the automotive industry which is centred around electrification, artificial intelligence, autonomous tech and advanced connectivity.
This initiative, with PROTON at the centre of it, is expected to attract investments from industry players in the region, spurring the growth and capability of the local automotive industry. The Automotive Hi-Tech Valley will encompass the existing PROTON City in Tanjung Malim, and include plans for a research university.
With so much going on within the automaker, PROTON is boldly expanding its influence and advancements to not only reach the local Malaysian market, but also to expand towards the international market as well. We can only hope to one day see the PROTON brand among some of the most popular automaker brands in the world.
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