Proton’s first SUV remains on track for its market introduction this year, and a definite timeline has now been mentioned. The SUV – which is based on the Geely Boyue – is expected to make its market debut sometime in late September or early October, according to Proton CEO Li Chunrong.

“We will launch (the car) in September or October. We will start the launch campaign for it from August,” he revealed during a press conference following the launch of Proton’s first upgraded 4S centre in Shah Alam earlier today.

He said that the SUV will be deployed in two phases. Phase one will see the SUV being fully imported from China, while the second phase will see it being locally assembled at the automaker’s Tanjung Malim plant from next year.

Li said that the reason for this two-stage process is to speed up the introduction of the vehicle into the market. “This is according to the government request that the new product come to Malaysia as soon as possible. With this move, we are on track,” he said.

He did not reveal how many units would be brought in for the first phase, but said that the automaker is attempting to get as many units as possible. The first right-hand drive examples will be previewed sometime in July, Li added.

According to Yang Jun, VP of Group Engineering at Geely, development work on the right-hand drive model has been completed. “All development work is already finished, so we just need to do some further testing in Malaysia,” he said.

He added that a lot of ground work had been done ahead of development. “We did a lot of clinics in Malaysia, so we received a lot of input from the Malaysian market. We then started a joint team involving Geely and Proton design teams, and integrated a lot of new input together. So, we already started the design development jointly from an early stage,” he explained.

The SUV is expected to feature more local design input when it begins its CKD local assembly programme in 2019, according to Proton’s head of design, Azlan Othman. He said that there had been minimal changes carried out on the SUV to speed up the market introduction, but “changes will come in the CKD version next year.”

Li added that Azlan will not only be responsible for exterior design changes but will also handle revisions to the interior.

The SUV will not be short on technology and equipment, Yang said. “In more than 18 months, the Boyue has sold more than 20,000 units in China every month. It is very competitive, and features a lot of new technology inside. We will take all the new technology currently already in China, and bring it here,” he said.

“We are not like some other competitors, (in that) we will delete some features. Actually, based on our understanding of the Malaysian market, we will add some features that local customers are interested in,” Yang added.

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