New Proton X50 to meet the market soon?

Buyers will be able to get the latest model from Proton before the year ends as it is said to be launched by October

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

PROTON Holdings Bhd is expected to unveil its second SUV X50 next month, 20 months after the launch of its successful C-segment SUV X70.

A source familiar with the matter said buyers will be able to get the latest model from Proton before the year ends as the automaker is ready to name the X50 price soon.

“Yes, the launching ceremony is scheduled for October this year,” the source told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) when contacted.

The person, however, refused to divulge further details on the matter.

The move to introduce X50 this year is imminent as the carmaker aims to ride the momentum of the huge success of X70.

In July last year, TMR reported that the X50 would be launched by August this year.

However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Proton has to extend its introduction by two months.

Last month, Proton featured the upcoming crossover model in its Merdeka video, which among others showed X50’s side profile and a possible sport version of the car.

Industry analysts have speculated that with the video, the launch of X50 will be sooner than expected.

Last year, Proton registered sales of 26,331 units for X70 or 26.1% of its total sales behind Proton Saga.

It is the year in which Proton returned to the second spot in terms of market share since 2016.

Industry analysts are optimistic that the X50 could boost Proton’s sales, provided with the right price for the market.

“Proton is on the right track with the market trend ramping up on SUVs. People have shifted from the MPV to SUV and at the same time, Proton, through Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd’s platform, has the capability and capacity in producing crossovers,” said industry observer Datuk Armin Baniaz Pahamin.

“However, pricing strategy will be the key factor to measure X50’s success, if we take a direct competition from Perodua Aruz. X50 should be not priced higher than the latter because it offers a seven-seat cabin,” he told TMR in a phone interview yesterday.

“Ideally, pricing should be competitive but must not be in the same price category similar to other Proton models,” Armin Baniaz added.

Proton Edar Dealers Association Malaysia president Liew Vee Lee said the selling point of X50 for Proton distributors will be the engine capacity and greater fuel consumption, as well as sporty exterior and sleek interior designs.

“It will also be loaded with up-to-date features and technology.

“We expect this vehicle to compete with not only within the SUV segment, but other classes within the same price range,” he told TMR.

Proton X50 will be based on the B-segment Modular Architecture platform like Binyue and the development was spearheaded together with Geely for the right-hand drive version.

It will be manufactured as fully completely knocked-down in Proton’s main plant in Tanjung Malim, Perak.

TMR earlier reported that the version, which will be done locally, could save as much as RM200 million in investments compared to performing the conversion to the right-hand drive and importing the car fully from abroad.