PROTON Holdings Berhad, DRB-HICOM Berhad and Suzuki Motor Corporation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and License Agreement in a bid to develop a long-term strategic collaboration between the three companies.
Signing on behalf of Proton was the CEO himself, Dato’ Abdul Harith Abdullah; on behalf of Suzuki is Chairman and CEO of Suzuki Motor Corporation, Mr Osamu Suzuki and CEO of Automotive Distribution and Manufacturing DRB-HICOM, Dato’ Radzaif Mohd. Also present at the signing ceremony was former Prime Minister and Chairman of Proton, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohd, Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia, His Excellency Makio Miyagawa and Minister of International Trade and Industry, Dato’ Sri Mustapha Mohd.
This collaboration will facilitate four strategic areas that are products, technology, people and market. It will also allow Proton to have access to Suzuki’s models, platforms, powertrain and the Japanese brand’s automotive technology. Suzuki, famous for producing reliable compact cars, have agreed to provide the necessary technical assistance for the products and scope selected by Proton.
Tun Dr Mahathir, when asked if the partnership will come to fruition come 2016, said he will make sure this collaboration materialises, citing previous MoU signing with Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda etc. However, all cards are being kept close to the chest with no specific details made mention, although the idea of Proton utilising their Tanjung Malim plant is on the table.
Proton, inline with the current National Automotive Policy (NAP), expressed their interest on venturing into the sub-litre displacement category, hinting at Suzuki’s 360 to 1,000cc engines as possible means of powering future compact cars. This effectively means that Proton will develop an A-Segment contender with Suzuki to battle against the giant that is Perodua. It’s unclear if this collaboration will result in a model rebadge or a newly developed one, but Tun Dr Mahathir did not deny both possibilities.