Reports indicate that Proton and Chinese carmaker Hawtai Automobile are expected to sign an official collaboration agreement before Chinese New Year at the earliest.

According to an unnamed Hawtai executive, discussions have already reached a much deeper state, and the exec added that the two sides have also explored plans to establish a new team of around 30 people in Beijing, with Hawtai planning to send nine other employees to Malaysia.

In October, at the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Nanning, Guangxi, Proton and Hawtai agreed on a potential collaboration, aiming to establish a technology site – with each having a 50% ownership share – to research and develop new models and key auto parts.

Besides R&D, the venture is also to focus on engineering and technology support, quality assurance work, supplier management and other basic tasks. Additionally, work on developing new vehicles, including new energy cars, is part of the agenda.

The reports state that domestic production of the Exora MPV and the upcoming P3-21A sedan – to be assembled at Ordos City, Inner Mongolia – will be the first order of business. The two companies are currently exploring ideas on how to lower costs to export the vehicles – which comply with Euro 5 emission standards – to Europe and other markets abroad.

The cooperation between Proton and Hawtai is to be carried out according to a new business model that won’t be limited to just Malaysia and China, but will include different markets from across the globe, acording to Hou Haijing, acting vice president and director of Hawtai’s automobile division. The two companies will use a global platform to develop new vehicle technology, procure auto parts and finally expand into new foreign markets, he added.