Proton has announced that it has entered a joint venture to develop car connectivity tech and products for both local and regional applications. The agreement for the collaboration was inked earlier today by Proton Edar, local telco company Altel Communications and Chinese firm ECarX (Hubei) Technology.

The ceremony was witnessed by Miao Wei, China’s minister of industry and information technology and Malaysia’s deputy minister of communications and multimedia, Eddin Syazlee Shith. Also present at the event was Zhejiang Geely chairman Li Shufu.

The new JV opens up the possibility of having local R&D and production of car connectivity solutions and digital services, expected to be one of the key drivers for future automotive sales. Areas of coverage will include the development of network connectivity management and telematics services for Proton cars.

For the national automaker, this will significantly increase the level of local content on that front, most immediately on the Proton X70 when the locally-assembled CKD version goes on sale later this year.

In April, Proton chairman Datuk Syed Faisal Akbar intimated that the Geely Smart Ecosystem (GKUI) infotainment system on the SUV would be updated and revised for local users as part of the switch to CKD. The system on CBU cars received a new over-the-air (OTA) update last month to address a few issues.

While no details have been offered, it is expected that localisation will, among other things, revise map content used for the navigation function, which in the CBU X70 is based on a Baidu version developed in China. Models such as the 2019 Proton Iriz, Persona and Exora RC also feature GKUI-based infotainment systems, and are also expected to benefit from the move.

The decision to localise research and development will also reduce cost and minimise dependability on foreign parts. Syed Faisal said that this will also open up the use of ‘Hi Proton’ in export markets, notably within ASEAN, where customisation for each market/language can be made in easier fashion with local R&D.

“Collaborations such as this will allow us to gain a foothold in the rapidly progressing area of car connectivity solutions while also increasing the knowledge base of our R&D engineers. It also allows us to explore the possibility of expanding our connectivity solutions to Proton’s export markets, particularly in neighbouring ASEAN countries,” he said during the signing ceremony.