National carmaker Proton initially was in no hurry to introduce its own electric vehicle as it only aimed to release its first EV model in 2027. After calls by Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) to expedite the production of affordable locally-made EVs, it appears that Proton is now working towards introducing its first EV for Malaysian consumers two years ahead of schedule.
A Bernama report quoted Proton Holdings Bhd Deputy Chief Executive Officer Roslan Abdullah saying that Proton is currently in the process of identifying suitable models of electric vehicles that are more affordable and pratical. He said “We may have a model that is affordable but not practical, so we are identifying together with Geely to speed up the project and this is also on the recommendation of the government, especially the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (Miti) to ensure that Proton accelerates the electric vehicle project.”
Proton, which is currently half-owned by China’s Geely Holding Group, mainly produces vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. The recently introduced Proton X90 is their first “electrified” model as the 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cyclinder engine is assisted with a 48-volt mild hybrid system.
Geely currently has several electric vehicle models under the group which include the Smart #1 EV which is expected to be sold in Malaysia in Q4 2023. There’s also Geometry, Zeekr and even Lotus, which has just introduced the Eletre, a fully electric SUV, in Malaysia. Also not forgetting Volvo, which currently has the XC40 and C40 EV models in Malaysia.
In order to release a new EV model by 2025, Proton is expected to rebadge an existing EV model from the Geely group and have it ready as a right hand drive (RHD) vehicle. Proton being the “people’s car” brand, consumers would expect a sub-RM100,000 EV model and it has to be competitively priced against the current best-sellers like the BYD Atto 3. Besides offering more EV options for Malaysian consumers, Geely could make Malaysia its EV production hub for RHD EVs for global markets.
At the moment, all fully imported electric vehicles are exempted from full import and excise duties until the end of 2025 while locally produced EVs are also tax exempted until the end of 2027. Road tax for EVs is also exempted until the end of 2025.
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