Although the Proton X70 has been on sale here for a year and some change; having been launched on 12 December 2018, all the units have been assembled overseas in China (CBU). Proton said it would launch local assembly by the end of 2019 and kept to its word with CKD operations kicking off on 13 December 2019 at its Tanjung Malim plant.
An injection of RM1.2 billion to bring the plant up to mark will see all X70s as well as right-hand drive models for Geely roll out from there after this.
“Today marks a historic milestone for Proton as we take another step towards being a global automotive brand. By producing the Proton X70 in Tanjung Malim, we have taken a quantum leap in our abilities as this is by far our most ambitious undertaking to date. This new plant will not only produce future products jointly developed with Geely but it will also be a centre for right-hand-drive production as we begin exports to countries all over the world,” said Datuk Sri Syed Faisal Albar.
The jump from CBU to CKD will supposedly see some improvements introduced for the X70 in the process. While power will still come from the 1.8-litre turbocharged inline-four, a slight bump in torque of 15Nm is expected. Major changes could even see the six-speed auto ditched in favour of a seven-speed dual-clutch unit. A powered tailgate is all but confirmed, as is the new Proton logo launched a while back.
“Proton has undergone a tremendous transformation over the past two years. This experience has worked out very well for us at Geely Auto as we are happy to help Proton realise its global aspirations. We’ll continue to support Proton as it grows in the Malaysian market and the wider Asean region and beyond,” echoed An Conghui of the Geely Auto Group.
The cash injection for upgrades to the plant transforms it not just into an assembly hub for the group’s right-hand drive models but has also seen a substantial push forward for local vendors by virtue of joint ventures with existing foreign vendors for the X70.
Proton’s automotive vendor network here has benefitted as Proton worked towards aligning the local vendors with the aforementioned foreign vendors for the X70 that resulted in seven new joint-ventures and bred partnerships between local and foreign companies.
The results are RM263 million from technical agreements and foreign investment as well as the creation of 1,084 new jobs in the vendor ecosystem.