Apparently there are some Proton Exora Hybrid prototypes running around in Lotus UK and Proton’s managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Syed Mohamad Tahir confirmed in a report with Bernama that he has tried them out. The prototypes were developed in collaboration with Lotus and various hybrid-related component suppliers like battery manufacturers.
The hybrid Exoras will be shipped to Malaysia by the end of this month or at the latest by early 2010, presumably to continue R&D and testing under local climate and conditions. But they won’t be going into production that soon, first Proton will assemble some hybrid models for government fleet use. Mass production of hybrid cars will come in 2011.
In March 2007, we got a glimpse of a Proton-Lotus hybrid vehicle collaboration called the Proton GEN2 EVE Hybrid Concept. Basically the 1.6 litre Campro was combined with a 30kW (40hp) electric motor and a CVT transmission. As a result, combined output is 141 horses, enough to take the car from 0 to 100km/h in 9 seconds. The standard Campro’s torque output goes up from 148Nm to a very nice 233Nm from just 1,500rpm.
Proton flew the car in for the Proton Technology Week in August 2008 but no media got to drive it – only our ex-PM had a go at the steering wheel.
Assuming a similiar setup is used, I can see how a Proton Exora would benefit from 233Nm of torque at such a low RPM. It would improve driveability by bucketloads, and with a CVT transmission the engine would always be in its most efficient speed band.
Lotus has also showcased a new ‘range extender’ hybrid system earlier this year. The Lotus range extender system basically uses an electric motor as the sole propulsion unit, but the battery can be charged by a 1.2 litre 3-cylinder engine that operates only as a generator – it does not drive the wheels.