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  • Perodua clarifies no Myvi and Alza detached rear axle issue, says social media photos are accident-related

    Recently, photos of Perodua Myvi and Alza accident vehicles have been circulating on social media, implying that these mishaps were as a result of the cars’ rear axle detaching from the chassis without intervention, thus causing these accidents to happen.

    Perodua has responded to clarify the matter, saying that the claims made in these posts are unfounded. Via a statement, it said that having manufactured over one million Myvis and hundreds of thousands of Alzas, it had not received any reports of axles coming off its cars whilst they were driven.

    The automaker explained that while there had been cases where the rear axle was separated from the body, it was when high-impact collisions took place. In these cases, Perodua said it had contacted the owners of the vehicles in the postings directly to confirm that the detached axles were a result of an accident, and not the cause of the mishap itself.

    Perodua added that it was disappointed that those involved in the distribution of these photos did not communicate with it to establish whether or not the context of the pictures were accurate. Below is the automaker’s official statement, in full:

     
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  • Proton’s plan under Geely – return to profit “as soon as possible,” focus on Malaysia, ASEAN markets first

    It’s still early days in Proton’s partnership with Geely, but the latter already has a few rough ideas of what it has in store for the Malaysian carmaker. The most pressing part of the agenda would be to plot a sustainable future for Proton, on which the Chinese conglomerate will collaborate with co-owner DRB-Hicom.

    Speaking with reporters after the signing of the definitive agreement today, Geely chairman Li Shufu said, “We want to turn Proton and Lotus into profitable companies, and for their development to be sustainable moving forward. For Proton, we hope that we can help it regain market share in Malaysia, and also expand into ASEAN markets. For Lotus, we want to help it penetrate the global market.”

    Li Shufu was not able to provide a timeline for Proton’s return to profitability when asked, but said that Geely would want the company to be back in the black as soon as possible. “I cannot give you a definitive timeline now, but rest assured we have a good, solid plan that we will put in place soon, and we will announce it in more detail in due course.

    “We believe it will not take a long time because we have strong confidence in the growth of the Malaysian automotive market, and also in Proton,” he said.

    DRB-Hicom managing director Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar also weighed in on the capital expenditure that will be channeled into Proton, which he said would be dependent on the company’s business plan and its long-term product planning strategy. “One of the first things that we [Geely and DRB-Hicom] need to do together is to put our minds together to develop a business plan. From there we will know more.

    “Whatever spending [we will make] will depend on what Proton will be, in terms of its long-term product planning [such as which market segments the company will enter]. Only when a deep discussion on that has taken place can we come up with an amount,” he said.

    Geely executive vice president and CFO Daniel Li Donghui laid bare the amount of cash the company has injected into its subsidiaries. “After Geely bought Volvo, we provided more than €3 billion (RM14.4 billion); we also provided [the London Taxi Company] with more than £300 million (RM1.6 billion) to develop pure electric London Taxis and build a brand new, modern plant.”

    In the near term, Proton will initially focus on Malaysian and South East Asian markets – it has been reported earlier that Geely will not enter these markets, so Proton will have the space to establish a foothold there. Other export markets will only be considered once the company has managed to do that.

    “First, Proton needs to stop losing money and turn itself around,” said Li Shufu. “The priority now is to strengthen its presence in Malaysia and ASEAN markets first – that is where its core business is. Once it has become profitable and has a sustainable development plan and products, then of course it can have plans to export to other countries. There is no limit to it.”

    Lastly, Li Shufu said that Proton’s more than 30 years of experience in research and development will be beneficial in helping Geely develop right-hand drive cars. “Proton will become one of Geely’s global R&D centres, and will focus on right-hand drive research and development and market adaptation,” he said.

     
  • No plans to introduce Geely brand in ASEAN – Proton will focus on the region as a right-hand drive hub

    With the formalisation of the partnership between Proton and Geely today, questions were raised on the roles that Proton and Geely brands will play, both in Malaysia and the region. Geely chairman Li Shufu made things very clear at the press conference after today’s definitive agreement signing between his company and DRB-Hicom.

    Li explained that the future Proton-Geely brand relationship is akin to that of Skoda and Volkswagen, with the Czech subsidiary (like Proton) playing in the same mass market field as its parent group’s namesake brand (VW being Geely in our case). Both can co-exist and share plenty of synergies.

    Geely’s entry into Proton will not see the latter’s brand disappear – in fact, there’s potential for the Proton brand to grow. Li said that the group, which also owns Volvo and the London Taxi Company, has no plans to use the Geely brand in Malaysia and South-East Asia. The group plans to develop Proton as its ASEAN brand. “No brand conflict,” Li said.

    The Proton brand having its “own territory” goes well with the earlier stated Geely plan of making Proton and Malaysia its right-hand drive hub – of course, the three biggest auto markets in ASEAN (Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia) are all RHD countries.

    However, let’s not confuse brand for product. What the Geely chairman is discussing here is the usage of the right brand for the right markets. There’s a possibility of right-hand drive Geelys sold as Protons in ASEAN and other RHD markets such as Australia, where Proton has already penetrated. Or Proton could have its own unique models based on Geelys – think Skoda Fabia and Volkswagen Polo.

    Of course, it’s still early days in this marriage and the new partners declined to provide any timeline or future model plans, beyond the confirmation of the Boyue SUV as the first Proton-Geely model for Malaysia.

    GALLERY: Geely Boyue in Malaysia

     
  • Proton-Geely FSP deal in detail – what DRB-Hicom, Geely and the Malaysian government will be getting

    Now that the definitive agreement for the Proton-Geely partnership has been signed, DRB-Hicom has revealed more details about Proton’s turnaround plan. On hand to feed the information to the media was Datuk Sri Syed Faisal Albar, group managing director of DRB-Hicom.

    During his presentation, Faisal explained the roles played by the government, Zhejiang Geely (ZGH), DRB-Hicom and other parties in relation to Proton, and we start with the carmaker’s new partner – Geely.

    Firstly, Geely will provide Proton with a consideration (funding) amounting to RM460.3 million, with RM170.3 being a cash injection, and the remainder being the cost of supplying the Boyue SUV platform. According to Proton, the valuation of the Boyue platform was undertaken independently by KPMG.

    The total consideration is what Geely is fronting to acquire its 49.9% stake in Proton, which has an implied post-money valuation of RM922.4 million. It was also revealed that the implied pre-money valuation of Proton amounted to RM462.1 million – the value of DRB-Hicom’s remaining 50.1% stake.

    Research and development will be an important aspect of the partnership, with Geely assisting Proton in terms of acquiring the latest technologies. Additionally, Proton’s R&D division will be transformed into one of Geely’s global centre of excellence, allowing it to develop future models.

    There’s also the matter of Proton relocating its operations to Tanjung Malim, which will allow it to be a manufacturing hub for right-hand drive Geely models. As the Chinese company will be supplying platforms and technologies to Proton, it will also impart its management expertise relating to manufacturing to ensure compliance.

    As for the assembly of Volvo cars at Tanjung Malim, Faisal said this is a possibility if there is excess capacity that can be spared to do so. This will also provide local vendors with the opportunity to be part of a global shared purchasing system, encouraging business growth outside of Proton.

    With Geely’s side explained, what about the government then? For starters, the remainder of Proton’s RM1.5 billion soft loan in the form of a second redeemable convertible cumulative preference shares (RCCPS) issue (RM250 million) that will be released today following the signing.

    Moving on, we arrive at the grant requested by Proton totalling RM1.1 billion as reimbursement for its previous R&D efforts. The government has said the reimbursement will only be given if Proton finds a strategic partner with a definitive agreement, which now makes the company eligible.

    Faisal pointed out that such a request was first submitted as far back as 2010 (before DRB-Hicom’s acquisition), where Proton was seeking RM3.7 billion. On the mention of loans, Proton will also back its syndicated loan of RM533 million to Malaysian banks to ensure a clean balance sheet.

    On DRB-Hicom’s end, Proton will transfer all non-automotive assets worth RM1.2 billion to its parent company, and repay all shareholder advances totalling RM567 million. In exchange, DRB-Hicom will also undertake any warranty and unmet volume amounting to RM331 million to ensure a clean slate for the partnership.

    In addition, DRB-Hicom will also foot the bill on a new R&D test track, something that is missing in Tanjung Malim. As Proton will vacate from Shah Alam, which is where it currently has a test track of its own, a new one is a necessity in Tanjung Malim for the development of future models.

    Aside from its dealings with Proton, DRB-Hicom will have its own engagements with the government arising from this deal, by purchasing RM350 million worth of RCCPS back from the government on behalf of Proton. Faisal revealed that although this purchase isn’t due until 2023, the government requires DRB-Hicom to purchase the RCCPS as part of a deal, before Proton is allowed to undergo any reorganisation.

    The government will also forfeit its conversion rights in Proton to show its intent to no longer be involved in the carmaker. These rights will be held by DRB-Hicom, but to ensure the government’s default risk is minimised if Proton is unable to repay its RM1.5 billion soft loan, DRB-Hicom’s RM1.2 billion asset pledge acts as a form of collateral (the remainder should be the RM350 million worth of RCCPS that DRB-Hicom buys from the government).

     
  • Peugeot Pick Up – a robust workhorse truck for Africa

    A Peugeot pick-up truck? Yup, exactly that. This is the Peugeot Pick Up (yes, that’s the name), which marks the return of Peugeot to the pick-up truck market in the African continent, as well as another step in the internationalisation of the French brand.

    The 5.08m double-cab Pick Up picks up from where the Peugeot 403 Camionnette-Bâchée of 1956, the Peugeot 404 Camionnette-Bâchée of 1967, and then the Peugeot 504 Pick-up which succeeded it until 2005 (the last year of production in Nigeria) left off.

    Peugeot, which is known in these parts for chic designs instead of robust workhorses, says that the Pick Up fulfils its target market’s fundamental needs for robustness, endurance and four-wheel drive. “It is aimed at customers who desire a work tool that is reliable in every circumstance, easy to use and maintain, which allows for a flexible combination of professional and family activities,” the company adds. Payload is 815 kg.

    A design throwback for us, the Pick Up comes with a traditional truck silhouette, a high body belt line, vertical front, horizontal bonnet and high ground clearance (210 to 215 mm). The door to the bed (1.40m long, 1.39m wide) has “Peugeot” stamped on it, full width, a nod to the old 404 and 504 pick-ups, its maker says. The front grille design is modern, though.

    The Pick Up is powered by a longitudinal 2.5 litre commonrail turbodiesel with 115 bhp and 280 Nm of torque, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. 4×4 and 4×2 versions are available.

    Standard equipment include manual air con, electric windows, electric wing mirrors and a CD player with USB port. Also on all Pick Ups are safety kit such as ABS with EBD, rear parking sensors and dual airbags. The 4×4 model gets sport bars, roof bars and footboards for a slightly more “lifestyle” look. It goes on sale in September.

     
  • Proton to act like Skoda, Geely as Volkswagen – no conflict of interest despite similar brand positioning

    During a press conference following the signing of the definitive agreement of the Proton-Geely partnership, a question was raised if there would be any conflict of interest between Proton and Geely, given the brand positioning of both parties.

    According to Zhejiang Geely chairman Li Shufu, this will not happen as both brands have different target markets. In the case of Proton, Li said the national carmaker is mainly relevant to Malaysia and South-East Asia, which Geely has no plans for its own plan. This negates any possibility of brand conflict.

    Therefore, Geely plans to develop Proton into an ASEAN brand, and it will not have any brand presence here. He cited an example – where Proton is akin to Skoda, and Geely is Volkswagen. There’s plenty of synergy between the two brands even though both have different market positioning.

    Li also noted that in the early stages, the first goal is for Proton to stop losing money and to turn its fortunes around. Only when the national carmaker has achieved a certain scale and strengthens its position in Malaysia, will there be the possibility for limitless future development and exports to other countries.

    Geely is looking to tap into Proton’s experience in its over 30 years of existence, to help it develop right-hand drive models that are suitable for export. This is in line with Geely’s ambition for Proton’s Tanjung Malim plant to become its RHD production hub.

    GALLERY: Geely Boyue in Malaysia

     
  • Proton-Geely partnership – definitive agreement inked

    The Proton-Geely strategic partnership has officially begun. Earlier this morning, DRB-Hicom and Zhejiang Geely (ZGH) signed the definitive agreement for the Chinese carmaker to acquire a 49.9% equity stake in Proton.

    The deal was formally inked in Kuala Lumpur by DRB-Hicom group MD Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar and ZGH president An Conghui and was witnessed by prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and ZGH chairman Li Shufu. The signing today took place exactly 30 days after an initial agreement on the deal was made in Putrajaya.

    It was announced at the event that the partnership will see Proton being the manufacturing hub for Geely’s right-hand drive (RHD) models. The national carmaker will also have access to ZGH’s products, platforms and technologies. There will also be the opportunity for cross-pollination of talent with the Chinese carmaker’s global engineering centres.

    All this will provide Proton with the ability to access markets beyond Malaysia, with South-East Asia and China being markets mentioned. According to Syed Faisal, local vendors who meet standards will be involved in Geely’s global network. He added that Proton will be able to assemble Volvo cars at its Tanjung Malim plant if there is excess capacity.

    Najib expressed his confidence that in ZGH, DRB-Hicom has found a partner that has the ability, expertise and ambition to take Proton to new levels of success and a secure future.

    “Geely is a company with the right credentials, committed leadership, and a proven track record. The new partnership between DRB-Hicom and Geely could well see Proton become one of the leading carmakers in South-East Asia and one of Malaysia’s great exports to the region,” he said in his speech at the event.

    “That would represent a win for Proton, for the owners, for the Malaysian economy, and for the hundreds of thousands of Malaysians who would benefit as a result,” he added.

    Li was also positive on the agreement, and expressed his hope that the cooperation will yield success. “We hope that through our cooperation with DRB-Hicom, Proton will be transformed into the No. 1 independent automobile brand in Malaysia and one of the top three in South-East Asia,” he said.

    The signing of the definitive agreement today also saw DRB-Hicom concluding its 100% sale of Lotus Advance Technology to ZGH and Etika Automotive, with ZGH acquiring a 51% majority stake in the British sports car maker. In May, DRB-Hicom had announced that it was selling its entire stake in Lotus, exiting the sports car business completely.

    Li said that for Lotus, ZGH will increase new product launches and capacity to fully release the brand’s appeal. He added that Proton and Lotus will create synergies for ZGH to position itself as a major player in the ASEAN market.

    The Geely Boyue – which will provide the basis for the partnership’s first model- was showcased at the signing ceremony today – details and images of the SUV here. Also on show at the event was the updated and enhanced Proton Exora MPV, featuring lightly revised aesthetics and equipment.

     
  • GALLERY: 2017 Proton Exora Enhanced – revised look

    On the sidelines of the DRB-Hicom-Geely definitive agreement signing ceremony in Kuala Lumpur today, the updated, enhanced Proton Exora MPV was displayed, featuring lightly revised aesthetics and equipment.

    Here, the seven-seater bears the latest iteration of Proton badging in black and chrome, along with gloss black accents comprised of the front grille trim, side mirror covers, painted roof, rear spoiler, and tailgate trim. Bumper and side skirt trim pieces a la Exora Super Premium are present here, while these along with the door trim strips are of a more pared-down design.

    Rolling stock is a set of 205/55/R16 tyres mounted on Inspira-look wheels with a machine-finished face. Inside, the SP’s faux carbon-fibre trim on the centre console and gearlever surround has been replaced by a new, patterned plastic finish, while seating is trimmed in leather, with the four main seats gaining an additional central strip.

    The steering wheel is now identical to that in the Proton Preve, while connectivity now gains a USB port for media input and playback, which will be controlled via a 2-DIN head unit. The second row includes a flip-down monitor for video playback.

    Full technical details are yet to be confirmed; in its last iteration the Exora was powered by a 1.6 litre turbocharged four-pot CFE engine paired with a CVT driving the front axle, while a 1.6 litre naturally-aspirated CPS was also available – on this front, it is more than likely to remain unchanged.

    Do stay tuned for updates here; in the meantime, enjoy the gallery of the Proton Exora Enhanced.

     
  • Geely Boyue SUV makes first Malaysian appearance

    This morning saw Proton and Geely sign a Definitive Agreement that will see the Chinese company take up a significant stake in the Malaysian carmaker, and its Lotus subsidiary. The signing ceremony in Kuala Lumpur also saw the companies display what will be the first fruit of the collaboration, or at least the original form of it.

    UPDATE: Full live gallery of the Geely Boyue added

    We are of course talking about the Geely Boyue, which has been previously confirmed as the first new Proton model in the Geely era. The Boyue, already in production and on sale in China, will be Proton’s first-ever SUV. As Perodua does not have an SUV in its current line-up, Proton’s Boyue will also be the only SUV with a local badge in the market.

    However, it is not yet clear what Proton’s right-hand drive version of the Boyue for the Malaysian market will be called, and if there will be local styling changes made to the SUV – the unit on display here is Chinese-market left-hand drive Geely Boyue.

    Measuring 4.5 metres long (a new Honda CR-V is 4,584 mm), the Boyue is a five-seater SUV designed by former Volvo designer Peter Horbury, who heads Geely’s design studios located in Gothenburg, Shanghai, Barcelona and Los Angeles.

    In China, it is offered with a range of engines which include a 2.4 litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder (162 hp/210 Nm) and a 1.8 litre turbocharged unit (163 hp/250 Nm). Transmission options include a six-speed manual or dual-clutch automatic, depending on engine choice. The T-GDI engine powers the unit shown here.

    In its domestic market, the Geely SUV also offers an impressive list of equipment like an eight-inch display screen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, and safety kit includes lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control (ACC), which allows the Boyue to match its highway cruising speed with the car in front of it.

    Proton’s version will come with a permanent SIM card slot, WiFi and related services, plus voice recognition, it was announced at today’s event. Like what you see? We’ve rendered a “Proton Boyue” with the local brand’s styling cues, to give you an idea of what to expect.

    When quizzed on timelines, Proton and Geely said that while they want this model in Malaysia as soon as possible, discussions are still needed on things such as whether or not to kick-off with CBU units, as well as the levels of localisation.

    GALLERY: Geely Boyue in Malaysia

     
  • Volvo clears the air on XC60 City Safety system “fail”

    If you’ve been on the internet recently, you may (or may not) have seen a video of a Volvo XC60 where by it is claimed the SUV’s autonomous emergency braking system “failed” to function properly.

    In the video, the XC60 is seen colliding with two men during an unofficial safety demonstration in the Dominican Republic. However, Volvo Car Malaysia has released an official statement to clear the air on the whole issue.

    Firstly, even though the car in the video is equipped with the brand’s City Safety system (active in speeds up to 50 km/h), it did not have the optional Pedestrian Detection functionality (this feature is standard on the XC60 T6 variant sold in Malaysia), which would have prevented the car from colliding with the two men. Therefore, these gentlemen should have known better than to demonstrate a safety feature that isn’t fitted on the car they are testing.

    The company explains further, stating that even if the car was equipped with this feature, heavy acceleration (i.e. pedal floored) by the driver could have caused the system to be overridden and deactivated. This is because the system detects that the driver intends to perform the action deliberately, deactivating itself as a result.

    Contrary to the title of the video, both men were alright and none of them were paralysed, nor were they a managing directors of Volvo Cars. Volvo Car Malaysia strongly recommends its dealers, partners and customers to never perform test towards real humans.

    The video itself isn’t new, with the incident taking place back in 2015. At the time, Volvo issued a statement confirming the accused XC60 did not have the optional Pedestrian Detection feature, and there was nothing wrong with the car itself.

     
 

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