Proton to launch three all-new models in the next two years – what might they be?



During the launch of the new 2022 Proton Saga today, Proton CEO Dr. Li Chunrong announced that the company will be launching “at least three” brand-new models in the country within the next two years.

“As we all know, products are the key. In the next two years, we will launch at least three brand-new models” said Li, before clarifying wittily – in Malay, “yes, tiga.” However, the CEO stopped short from revealing just which models he was referring to, so we did a little digging (and guesswork) to find out which three.

Back in 2018, Geely disclosed to its public shareholders that Proton has acquired the licences for three of its models to be produced and sold here in Malaysia, namely the NL-3 (Geely Boyue), SX11 (Geely Binyue), and VF11 (Geely Jiaji MPV).

The first two of the list eventually became the Proton X70 and X50 respectively, leaving only the Jiaji that has yet to make its way into Malaysia. Seeing that the Exora is currently the oldest model within Proton’s model line-up, it stands to reason that one of the three mentioned by Dr. Li would include the MPV model.

The Jiaji made its debut in China back in November 2018 as Geely’s first-ever MPV model, boasting a stylish and modern design, paired to a high-tech cabin. In its home country, the Jiaji is offered in both a six- or seven-seater configuration, with three different seating layout options – 2+2+2, 2+2+3, or 2+3+2.

For propulsion, the Geely Jiaji is available in three different powertrain options – a 1.5-litre turbocharged mild-hybrid (MHEV), 1.5-litre plug-in hybrid, and a 1.8-litre turbo petrol. The MHEV pairs a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine with a 48V electrical system to make 190 hp and 300 Nm of torque, while the PHEV commands 258 hp and 385 Nm of torque. Both electrified powertrains are paired to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

As for the pure-ICE model, the Jiaji gets a 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol mill and a six-speed automatic gearbox to send 181 hp and 300 Nm to the front wheels – and if you think that sounds a little familiar, that’s because it’s the exact same powertrain found in the Proton X70 as well. If (or rather, when) the model makes its way into Malaysia, it’ll most likely be offered with the latter – at least at launch.

Moving on to car number two, we are expecting to see yet another SUV model, most likely to be based off of the Geely Haoyue/Okavango that has already been widely spotted – in camouflaged form – around Malaysian roads.

The seven-seater SUV, rumoured to be called the Proton X90, is also offered with the same 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine as the Jiaji above (and the X70, obviously), which makes it a lot easier for our national carmaker to mass produce here in our country.

Over in the Philippines however, where the Okavango is already on sale, it is instead offered with the 190 hp 1.5-litre MHEV powertrain, as it’s shared with the Geely Azkarra (Boyue Pro) that’s also sold in the archipelago.

The last car of the trio is, to be honest, a little out of the left field – because it’s won’t exactly be a Proton model. We’re referring to the Smart #1 EV, which only made its global debut last month.

Smart’s re-emergence in Malaysia is not new news, however – it was previously announced that Proton Edar, the national carmaker’s distribution arm, has been appointed the new official importer, distributor, and dealer for the Smart brand in Malaysia and Thailand.

The #1 is built on Geely’s Sustainable Electric Architecture (SEA) platform, and features a 66 kWh battery pack that promises a range of up to 440 km on a single charge. Performance wise, the Smart #1 gets a single rear-axle motor with an output that’s rated at 272 hp (200 kW) and 343 Nm, and will have a top speed of 180 km/h.

Excited yet? Well, unfortunately, it’ll still be a little while before we see a launch from Proton. Speaking to the media after the event, Proton deputy CEO Roslan Abdullah revealed that the two-year period Dr Li mentioned actually refers to 2023 and 2024, which means that any new car launches will only happen next year at the earliest.

He attributes the delay to the worldwide chip shortages that have plagued the company’s production capabilities, alongside the lockdowns that have affected not just Proton locally, but also Geely in China.

Still, it’s set to be an exciting few years for Proton, and we can’t wait to get our hands on the new cars to bring you the latest coverage, so keep your eyes peeled!



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