Just seven months since operations begun at its new Tanjung Malim engine line in April this year, national carmaker Proton has now announced that the 10,000th unit of the 1.5-litre TGDi turbocharged three-cylinder engine has now rolled off the assembly line.
Speaking at the milestone event on 1 December, Proton CEO Li Chunrong said, “Proton’s new engine line is testimony to the grit and determination of our workers to overcoming obstacles and achieving our goals.”
“It is one of the most advanced engine assembly lines in Malaysia with a high level of automation, a climate-controlled environment and multiple testing gateways to ensure the high quality of its output. In 2023, we are targeting an output of 60,000 engines, which will be used across several Proton models,” he added.
The engines built at the Tanjung Malim assembly line are currently only being used in the 2022 Proton X70 (MC2), although it seems like that might soon change, according to Li’s comments.
In the TGDi form, the turbocharged three-pot engine is rated for an output of 177 hp and 255 Nm of torque. The same configuration is also used in the Proton X50 Flagship, although the engine for the model is still currently being imported from China.
Li Chunrong’s comment is a strong sign that the Proton X50 will soon be sourcing its engine from the local assembly line, but there could well be more to his comments than just the compact crossover, given the 60,000-unit production target next year.
Note that thus far in 2022, Proton has only sold 16,746 units of the X70 and 36,917 units of the X50 including exports, the latter also includes other variants that do not utilise the range-topping direct-injection engine. A surplus of engine is likely based on this year’s sales data, which means we could see it also being utilised on other, unannounced models too – potentially the highly-rumoured Proton X90 SUV.
The rumoured Proton X90 will be based on the Geely Haoyue, according to spy shots of the vehicle being spotted around Malaysia. Over at the Philippines, the D-segment SUV – called the Okavango – is powered by the same 1.5-litre three-cylinder mill, albeit with an additional 48-volt mild hybrid system on top for a total system output of 190 hp and 300 Nm.
Curiously, the mild hybrid 1.5L engine can already be found on display at the national carmaker’s new Gallery of Inspiration showroom at its flagship COE outlet in Shah Alam.
Proton says the new locally-produced 1.5-litre TGDi engine is a part of the company’s commitment to invest RM1.8 billion to upgrade its facility in Tanjung Malim, and the culmination of a journey that began in 2019 that was taken under challenging conditions.
“The operational expansion plan is in line with the first strategic thrust of the DRB-HICOM Automotive High Technology Valley (AHTV) programme that aims to maximise manufacturing activities in the region,” the company said in a statement.