Back in July, it was reported that Proton’s new SUV, which will be based on the Geely Boyue, is expected to enter the market only by the end of 2018 or early 2019.

Speaking at today’s DRB Hicom and Geely joint press conference announcing the new board of Proton, DRB-Hicom MD Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar explained the reasons why the vehicle is still more than a year away from market deployment.

He said that a fair amount of work will be needed to localise the vehicle for series production, hence the somewhat lengthy timeframe.

“Any products that we will bring from Geely and from elsewhere outside Malaysia, it will take time, because predominantly these products are left-hand drive, so to convert to right-hand drive will take some time,” he said.

“The level of the CKD programme that we are going to have for new products will also have to be detailed out, and this will include the RHD conversion and local components that are supposed to be produced here,” he added.

The partnership will also be studying a number of other aspects, including what is needed to attract local buyers. Li Chunrong, the newly-appointed CEO of Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Sdn Bhd (PONSB), said that the most important for the company is to focus on customer satisfaction.

He added that the automaker will conduct a series of focus group sessions to determine market requirements. “We will have three car clinics. We should understand what do Malaysian customers would want. Then we will, according to their needs, redesign [the car],” he said.

Geely executive VP and CFO Daniel Donghui Li added that work on the new vehicle to ensure its prompt arrival was being pursued aggressively. “The team, including our Malaysian and Chinese colleagues as well as Geely’s R&D team in China will have a very intensive timetable to deliver the new product.”