PROTON considers 2022 a successful year as it recorded total sales of 141,432 vehicles for its 4th consecutive year of growth. This is also the highest total sales for the brand since 2013, and keeps it on course with its 10-year business plan to return to profitability, which it had set in 2018.
PROTON remains 2nd place in the national automotive sales table but has a programme to continue its growth trajectory in the domestic and international scenes. One strategy to manage development and production cost is to retain its ‘PIES’ stable consisting of the Persona, Iriz, Exora and Saga. According to PROTON, the company will continue updating and upgrading its existing models while maintaining affordable pricing. The company had indicated it will upgrade these models’ powertrain, especially the Persona and Iriz. No details were given but it is highly likely to pick engines from the Geely group, such as the 1.0L turbocharged GEM 3 engine with 136 PS and 205 Nm. In comparison, the current 1.6L VVT engine used in the Persona and Iriz offer 108 PS and 150 Nm so this will be a significant bump up. Further, the current CVT in these models could make way for an automatic transmission. The current Saga is already fitted with an auto gearbox.
But besides the PIES range, PROTON will also be introducing another 2 SUV models, one of which is expected to be the X90. Also known as the Geely Haoyue in China, or Okavango in other markets, this 7-seater SUV runs a 1.5L 3-cylinder turbo engine with a 48V mild hybrid setup to produce 190 PS and 300 Nm. This model would also be part of the first phase of PROTON’s EV roadmap, along with the planned arrival of the smart #1 BEV (battery electric vehicle) by late 2023.
The company’s EV roadmap will be implemented in overlapping phases, beginning with mild hybrids to gain market penetration and prepare its dealer and vendor ecosystem. This will overlap with the phase to introduce PHEV (plug-in hybrid) and BEV models which also involves local production. Its ultimate goal is to develop a comprehensive production ecosystem locally and become a right-hand-drive EV production hub for the Geely group and cater to export markets. The Geely group includes brands like Volvo, Polestar, Zeekr, smart, and Lotus, all of which have electrified models, so PROTON should be able to pick from a wide variety of models for market customisation. However, there is no timeline set yet for this plan, but there already is a basket of fruit for it to pick from.