Proton Suzuki MOU_ 001

In case you missed it, on Monday, Proton and Suzuki signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Licence Agremeent that, amongst other things, gives Proton access to Suzuki’s models, platforms, powertrain and automotive technology, with the Japanese carmaker providing technical assistance for the products and scope selected.

As with MoUs, which are not legally binding, the possibilities are endless. The two companies will study and explore all areas where it is possible to work together, so the extent of collaboration and sharing could equally be high, low or ultimately even nothing at all.

But the signed Licence Agreement grants Proton the rights to CKD manufacture and sell a Suzuki model under its own brand, and numerous mentions of “small, compact cars” and smaller engine segment vehicles” at the event fuels speculation that Proton wants to develop its first A-segment city car to challenge Perodua’s hot-selling Axia.

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No, we haven’t forgotten the national carmaker’s resultless MoUs with other companies in the past (which include Rover, Volkswagen, Nissan, Detroit Electric and China’s Hawtai), so how do we know this one will bear fruit? “Since I’m now the executive chairman of Proton, I will make it happen,” said former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad with a knowing smile.

Also, we have considerably more details this time round – both Proton and Suzuki have confirmed in their official press releases that the first phase of this agreement will start production at the Tanjung Malim plant in the next 16 months.

Additionally, Suzuki has revealed that it will supply Proton with CKD components for a compact passenger model, and possibly in the future, engines and transmissions for Proton to use in its models. So, fingers crossed for this one, then!