Malaysian automaker Proton has recently signed a joint venture agreement with its parent Geely to assemble and sell Proton cars in China. Both parties will enter into an equal-share joint venture for this purpose, which is expected to be announced in due course.
The agreement entails new models which will be developed with Geely, and will focus on electrification technology. Geely already has the said technology in its portfolio and has several models already on sale, including the Geely BoRui GE plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and mild hybrid models (MHEV) for the Chinese market.
Also specified in the agreement is Geely’s role in providing the vehicle platform, and engineering aspects such as engines and drivetrain for the models involved; while Proton will bear the task of exterior and overall design for the new models.
These upcoming models will be sold in the Chinese market with Proton badge, while Proton’s existing platforms are also under consideration for the development of more Chinese market models. This also demonstrates Geely’s commitment to explore further cooperation with Proton to further strengthen (Proton’s) position and widen its reach for the export market.
Geely has already indicated to help steer Proton back to success by regaining its lost market share in Asian and global markets. Geely also intends to penetrate the Southeast Asian markets with its technology and products using Proton’s brand name.
Not only this, the Chinese carmaker intends to dominate the RHD (Right Hand Driven) markets with its range of vehicles sold as Proton. Geely is set the bring forth, one new model every year starting with the Boyue SUV in Malaysia which is expected to launch towards the end of 2018. The RHD version of the Boyue SUV is currently in testing phase and will be launched as Proton’s first SUV with a slight makeover later this year.
Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is currently on his official visit to China where he attended the JV signing ceremony between Geely and Proton. Dr Mahatir also happens to be the founding father of Proton brand. At Geely’s headquarters, Dr Mahathir was also introduced to several vehicles produced by Geely, some of which he also drove. Speaking at the event, Dr Mahatir said:
“When Proton was first produced, Geely was nowhere around. We sent six Proton cars here (to China), and we were very proud of our achievement. But as you know, Geely has outstripped us in terms of quality and productivity. I think Proton can benefit from working together with Geely.”
The Chairman of Geely, Li Shufu said on the occasion:
“In line with the prime minister’s deep expectations, we have decided to deepen our strategic cooperation between our two sides in the field of new energy, increase our investment in architectures, product platforms, as well as core component investment in Malaysia, which will help both nations occupy the commanding heights of future development in the automotive industry.”
Dr Mahatir further said that he hopes the collaboration will enhance the engineering capabilities and knowledge of Proton.
“I have to admit, there have been much improved quality and technology shown by Geely through its new models.”
Geely has taken its place at the sharp end of the Chinese market (which has approximately 300 automakers) by becoming the first privately-owned Chinese brand in China to reach the one million vehicles sales mark last year.
Geely sold 1.24 million vehicles in 2017 for a market share of 5.06%. The company has sold 125,000 vehicles a month on average in the first six months of this year. The Geely Boyue, which is the basis for Proton’s first SUV that will be launching in Malaysia later this year, has charted sales of 20,000 units a month in China this year. Reportedly after Boyue SUV, the Geely BoRui PHEV/ MHEV will form the basis of the second Proton vehicle that might launch by 2019/20.
Both Proton and Geely had their shot in Pakistani market during the previous decade. Proton was introduced by Royal Automobiles whereas Geely was brought in by SUS Motors. Proton vehicles launched in Pakistan included the Saga (1.3), Wira (1.5), Gen-2 (1.3 & 1.6) and Impian (1.6). Geely had launched the CK sedan with 1.3 and 1.5 liter engine options. Both the companies had bigger plans for our market but since they were counting on selling CBU imports without any major investment in the country, were affected badly when the import duties took a toll in 2008.
Related: The 2018 Geely BoRui GE- PHEV & MHEV
Now when Geely has become a global automobile giant and with Proton under their umbrella, it will be interesting to see if they somehow make a comeback in Pakistan with their modern range of vehicles.