Proton is planning to launch its own electric vehicle in five years’ time according to Roslan Abdullah, the Deputy CEO of Proton Holdings Berhad. This was revealed during the Invest Malaysia’s The Road To EV session organised by Bursa Malaysia and Macquarie earlier today.
An industry veteran who has spent some time at various automotive companies including Isuzu HICOM Malaysia, Modenas, and Honda Malaysia, Roslan was appointed as the company’s Deputy CEO back in January. Just before that, he was the VP of Sales and Marketing for Proton as well as the CEO of Proton Edar.
Roslan has certain shared plenty of interesting insights during the session. Aside from the 2027 target, he also pointed out that Proton’s EV roadmap has actually started 10 years ago but the company did not pursue it due to several factors including market demand and technology.
That remark reminded us of the ill-fated Proton Iriz EV prototype that the company showcased at the International Greentech & Eco Productions Exhibition (iGEM) 2015. Equipped with a 116kW motor and 39.6kWh battery with maximum range of 300km, it was originally planned for production in 2017 but it never became a reality and the prototype eventually ended up being auctioned off in 2020.
Meanwhile, Roslan has also said during the session that two of the existing models produced by Proton can easily be converted into EV. However, he quickly pointed out that the company can’t simply jump into producing its own EV though without understanding the market, technology, and the required investment.
Hence, that is why Proton has kicked off its EV journey with the sales and distribution of the smart #1 EV which is expected to be released in Malaysia in Q4 2023. Roslan also revealed that the company is currently in active discussion potential partners to locally assemble EVs in Malaysia although no names were mentioned during the Invest Malaysia’s session.
Proton is also currently considering models made by its co-parent company Geely that can meet the demand and the necessary mass volume for the Malaysian market. In terms of achieving economies of scale, the deputy CEO noted that the company is looking at 20,000 to 30,000 units as the volume that the company might need to work on although Roslan admitted that the numbers still relatively subjective.
For context, he said that 150,000 units or more is a good number for Proton when it comes to vehicles with internal combustion engine (ICE). In terms of investment, it generally requires around RM1 billion to develop a new car but with the current economy situation and the fact that EV technology is still quite new, the company believed that the amount of investment needed is likely to be higher.
Roslan has also made an interesting remark regarding the importance of having local EV vendor ecosystem which is generally non-existent at the moment. He said that Proton is currently working to attract foreign EV-oriented vendors to set up operation in Malaysia.
This would then allow Proton to source parts locally and build a true national EV. Else, Malaysia will just become a “processing or assembly house” which is why Proton is looking into this matter deeply according to the industry veteran.