Proton. A name which is more a curse than pride to many Malaysians. Proton has many interesting relationship with various of car manufacturers around the world, from the turbulent “on and off” relationship with their mentor, Mitsubishi, the on and off deals with some Chinese manufacturers, Gold Star and Youngman, the baggage, Lotus and “it is best to be forgotten”, MG Agusta. Not to forget Proton plays a “hard to get” relationship type with giants like General Motors and Volkswagen.
After being bought over by Malaysian industrial automotive distributor giant, DRB-HICOM and decides to get Proton a decent strategic partner to give Proton some additional lifeline, DRB-HICOM decided that it is best Proton to look East once again. This time, DRB-HICOM has engineered a smart strategic partnership between Proton and one of DRB-HICOM’s brands, Honda. Just today, Proton and Honda has signed an important agreement signified the potential of a long-term strategic collaboration between Proton and Honda.
This collaboration will also explore opportunities in the areas of technology enhancement, new product line-up, and sharing of platforms and facilities. Which should be interesting as future Proton models might share the ones used by Honda and the area of opportunity seems endless. However, past relationship with Mitsubishi wasn’t a great one to be honest, as Mitsubishi shares only outdated designs, chassis and technology to Proton, and never gave room to Proton to modify it. As details remain sketchy so it is unsure if Proton will suffer the same faith with Honda on that.
On the greener side both are exploring hybrid technologies so seeing Honda’s matured hybrid technology to be integrated with Proton’s range finder technology remains interesting to be seen. From here we can see some positives, more so on the sharing of platform and technology for green cars.
I’m not sure if we see another rebadge taking place but I do hope this will not happen. Otherwise, more Proton owners will shout “Proton VTEC has kick in YOOOO” while many Honda owners are joining their friends who owns the Mitsubishi Lancer to dig their own graves.