by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by TMR FILE
PROTON Holdings Bhd plans to launch the Proton X50 by August next year as the carmaker rides the momentum following the huge success of its maiden SUV, X70, while it continues to retake lost market shares.
A source close to the development said the much talked-about compact B-segment SUV X50 will be fully assembled at Proton’s upgraded plant in Tanjung Malim, Perak.
Proton X50 will be based on the Binyue platform and the carmaker will spearhead the development together with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd for the right-hand drive version, said the source.
Proton X50 will be based on the B-segment Modular Architecture(BMA) platform like Geely Binyue.
It is believed that the plan to have a fully CKD (completely knocked-down) version done locally could save as much as RM200 million in investment compared to performing the conversion to the right-hand drive and importing the car fully from abroad.
Proton has reignited interest among car buyers following its recent success, largely boosted by the highly competitive C-segment SUV market.
For the first six months of the year, Proton delivered 43,679 cars or 61% higher compared to the corresponding period last year.
The carmaker, which partnered China’s Geely, delivered 7,615 cars last month, accounting for 18.1% of the industry’s total industry volume (TIV) for the month, the highest market share since July 2015.
Proton sold 10,611 units in May, allowing for the carmaker to leap above Honda as the No 2 brand in the country. Official data showed Honda sold 10,509 units.
Proton X70 is already the country’s best-selling SUV in recent months. The company sold more than 15,000 units of X70 for the January through June period.
Proton is aiming to wrestle its title of the country’s second best-seller based on TIV.
Honda remains the No 2 carmaker based on TIV, selling more than 44,200 vehicles for the January-June period.
But the gap is very small and Proton is aiming to replicate the success of X70 in the compact B-segment SUV segment with X50.
Last month, several media reported the presence of Geely Binyue on Malaysian roads, triggering talks of the entry of the model. The Binyue, Geely’s first compact SUV, was launched for the Chinese market in November last year.
It is developed on the company’s BMA modular platform that was co-developed with Volvo Cars.
Several news portals claim that the SUV would be available from RM75,000, an attractive price tag which would further worry Proton’s competitors.
Proton had received more than 30,000 orders for the X70 and the roll-out from the Tanjung Malim plant will help boost deliveries, including exporting into markets in the region.
Last month, Proton kicked off local assembly trials of its X70, the first phase from the main Tanjung Malim plant’s expansion.