June 15, 2015 @ 08:24 PM

Proton, Suzuki and DRB-HICOM signs MOU

This isn’t the first time Proton got together with another carmaker to build cars. So is Proton back in the business of rebadging cars?

Today witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding and License Agreement between Proton Holdings Berhad, DRB-HICOM Berhad and Suzuki Motor Corporation Japan. Signing on behalf of their respective companies are YBhg Dato’ Abdul Harith Abdullah (CEO of PROTON), Mr Osamu Suzuki (Chairman and CEO of Suzuki Motor Corporation Japan) and YBhg Dato’ Radzaif Mohamed. Also in attendance are Yang Berhormat Dato’ Sri Mustapha Mohamed (Minister of International Trade and Industry), PROTON Chairman and Former Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and His Excellency Makio Miyagawa, the Ambassador of Japan to Malaysia.

This new partnership will see Suzuki opening its vault of know-how and allow Proton to access the Japanese carmaker’s models, platforms, powertrain and automotive technology. More specifically, Proton is looking to learn and transfer technology from Suzuki’s vast knowledge of building small cars. Proton wants to swim in the mini and compact category with cars powered by engines with capacities between 660cc and 1.0-litre, a market segment currently dominated by Perodua. Still, anyone up for another Malaysian Kei-car?

The specifics of this MOU and License Agreement is yet to be hammered and polished. The respective companies are still in the midst of working out a solution that will be a win-win for everyone. And part of that win-win situation is to ensure that the vehicles produced by both carmakers do not compete for the same share of the pie. Suzuki will still sell their cars through their own dealer network as would Proton through Proton Edar.

One possibility on how to start the ball rolling is for Proton to modify existing Suzuki models. Later models would have already adapted technology from Suzuki into platforms that is unique to Proton.  As mentioned earlier, everything is still up in the air. Target to solidify the details of this agreement will be in 2016. At least for now, the Cappuccino is only limited to the beverage you get in swanky coffee places.

Having said that, Tun Dr. Mahathir mentioned that the Tanjung Malim plant will be involved in this collaboration. Will Proton and Suzuki cars be made side by side in the same plant? Who knows, we have to wait till 2016 to know the answer.


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