When Proton announced its new engine family, a total of six engines were listed, including VVT, GDI and TGDI mills. Some have questioned why there is a need for so many engine variants to be introduced, especially when they share close capacities. According to Proton chief technical officer Abdul Rashid Musa, this is to allow for variable vehicle packaging for different market needs.

As a brief refresher, these are the six different engine variants that are currently in Proton’s pipeline:

  • 1.0 litre three-cylinder VVT
  • 1.2 litre three-cylinder VVT
  • 1.3 litre four-cylinder GDI
  • 1.5 litre four-cylinder GDI
  • 1.3 litre four-cylinder TGDI (turbo)
  • 1.5 litre four-cylinder TGDI (turbo)

Rashid stated the new engines utilise a modular design, whereby the 1.3 and 1.5 litre four-cylinder units use the same bore of 75 mm, but with different strokes to achieve the desired capacities. The 1.0 litre and 1.2 litre mills meanwhile, are a result of one cylinder being cut off from the above-mentioned engines. The new engines also uses Petronas patents obtained earlier, ensuring lower development costs. By comparison, all six engines cost RM600 million to engineer, compared to the two CamPro engines that cost RM450 million to develop.

“The engine will be for small cars, even though it’s a 1.3 litre four-cylinder, the engine is too big to be inserted into the engine room for an A-segment car, for example. That’s why we need the 1.0 or 1.2 litre three-cylinder, which is smaller to be packaged into the car. So, it’s not just about the size of the engine but the packaging consideration, that’s why they are so close in proximity in terms of capacity (1.2 and 1.3 litre) but differ in purpose,” Rashid said.

“In fact, I ask this question about other OEMs as well. Why they have 1.4 and then 1.5 litre engines. I think one of the considerations by other OEMs is related to packaging as well. So, in Proton’s case, it was meant and intended for smaller car. To achieve better fuel efficiency, it’s not just about the engine, we need to make the car lighter, more aerodynamic for better fuel economy,” he added.

Proton CTO Abdul Rashid Musa interview 4

When the Proton Saga was brought up, Rashid mentioned, “the current Saga can fit a four-cylinder engine. The future Saga may not fit the four-cylinder engine. This means that the three-cylinder engines will only be introduced beyond the new Saga that will be introduced this year, because the new engines will only be ready by 2017.”

When asked if the next Saga will be smaller to make room for the Persona, Rashid replied saying it depends on market needs. As these engines are modular in design, it provides Proton with options to produce the appropriate engines without excessive cost. It’s also allows the flexibility to package the required powertrain. “Looking at Malaysia’s TIV, Perodua’s Axia 1.0 litre car is commanding nearly 10,000 units per month, so there is a big opportunity for Proton to participate in this area,” he added.

Rashid also touched upon Proton involvement in the total value chain of automotive business, which includes operating its own casting, engine machining and assembly plants, as well as mould and die-making (via Miyazu). These early investments stretch back many years and have a role to play in Proton’s future.

“Because we are a small volume player, we have to find a means on how to produce these small numbers economically. The only way to do that is by having modular engine design, so we can communalise maximum possible part and components, be it three- or four-cylinder engines,” he said.