Proton is studying the feasibility of developing an MPV and an SUV, said director of manufacturing Datuk Kamarulzaman Darus. Development will take up to 24 months if the results of the feasibility studies are positive.
In such a short period of development time, it would mean Proton would be using a platfrom from one of it’s strategic partners, which could be either Volkswagen or Mitsubishi at this period of time. It could even be Peugeot.
Some interesting facts – Peugeot and Mitsubishi has a joint venture SUV program. The Peugeot 4007 is actually a re-engineered Mitsubishi Outlander. As for the MPV, it was previously rumoured that Proton would be developing an MPV based on the Volkswagen Sharan. That’s a large MPV, not a small one like the Toyota Avanza.
Details are sketchy right now, and the projects are not even approved and could possibly not even see the light of day if the feasibility studies have negative results, but at least it is something to look forward to once the Satria Replacement Model is launched. Another model to look forward to is the Perdana replacement model, which might be based on the Mitsubishi 380, or a Volkswagen Passat. Funny, when originally announced, Proton planned to launch the Perdana replacement by the end of 2005, but I guess that plan was scrapped when talks with Volkswagen broke down. The Mitsubishi 380 sounds likelier now.
Update (25/5/2006): Proton says if the projects are given the green light, it will be developing them on their own with assistance from Lotus Engineering. This would be a good opportunity to use Lotus Engineering’s Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA), in which a common platform can be used to develop a variety of vehicles like SUVs, MPVs, and even coupes. The Lotus APX Aluminium Performance Crossover concept vehicle was a demonstration of the versatility of the VVA platform. Click here for more details on the Lotus Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA).