With the formalisation of the partnership between Proton and Geely today, questions were raised on the roles that Proton and Geely brands will play, both in Malaysia and the region. Geely chairman Li Shufu made things very clear at the press conference after today’s definitive agreement signing between his company and DRB-Hicom.

Li explained that the future Proton-Geely brand relationship is akin to that of Skoda and Volkswagen, with the Czech subsidiary (like Proton) playing in the same mass market field as its parent group’s namesake brand (VW being Geely in our case). Both can co-exist and share plenty of synergies.

Geely’s entry into Proton will not see the latter’s brand disappear – in fact, there’s potential for the Proton brand to grow. Li said that the group, which also owns Volvo and the London Taxi Company, has no plans to use the Geely brand in Malaysia and South-East Asia. The group plans to develop Proton as its ASEAN brand. “No brand conflict,” Li said.

The Proton brand having its “own territory” goes well with the earlier stated Geely plan of making Proton and Malaysia its right-hand drive hub – of course, the three biggest auto markets in ASEAN (Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia) are all RHD countries.

However, let’s not confuse brand for product. What the Geely chairman is discussing here is the usage of the right brand for the right markets. There’s a possibility of right-hand drive Geelys sold as Protons in ASEAN and other RHD markets such as Australia, where Proton has already penetrated. Or Proton could have its own unique models based on Geelys – think Skoda Fabia and Volkswagen Polo.

Of course, it’s still early days in this marriage and the new partners declined to provide any timeline or future model plans, beyond the confirmation of the Boyue SUV as the first Proton-Geely model for Malaysia.

GALLERY: Geely Boyue in Malaysia