Proton has announced that it will be investing RM1.2 billion in plant expansion initiatives in order to cater to the manufacturing process of its upcoming X70 SUV, as well as next-generation Proton models. The investment – which will be from Proton and not Zhejiang Geely Holdings – will also facilitate the transformation of its Tanjung Malim facility into an R&D and production hub for right-hand drive models within the Geely Group.

According to the company, the Tanjung Malim site will be augmented with new body in white (BIW), sub-assembly, trim and final, and logistic facilities. Set to be completed by March 2019, the plant will have a capacity of 150,000 annually, with production set to kick off in September 2019.

The new facilities represent Phase 1 of the plant’s expansion, and further expansion could see the addition of an engine plant, bringing total investment up to RM3 billion. The Tanjung Malim plant currently employs 1,700 people, but that figure is expected to grow to 8,200 by 2023.

Click to enlarge

The national automaker has also secured the use of intellectual properties (IP) and the rights to manufacture and sell three Geely models, namely the Boyue SUV (to be the Proton X70), as well as the SX11 SUV and VF11 MPV. The agreement encompasses the design, development, manufacture, sale, marketing and distribution of the three models, and it states Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand as countries that Proton is allowed to market the licensed models. The licensing period is 10 years.

Proton’s chairman Dato’ Seri Syed Faisal Albar said “Proton would like to urge its vendors to grab this opportunity to build partnerships with their overseas counterparts in order to reach a world standard for technology advancement and quality. This will enable them to compete internationally and lead to the development of a Malaysian automotive industry vendor community that is able to compete on a global scale.”

“The participation of Malaysian vendors is a key component to achieving the long-term goals of the company,” he added. The initial local content target for the CKD X70 is 30%. It will grow to 40% before exports to ASEAN markets start.

Geely Bin Yue/SX11 (left); Geely VF11 (right)

“We want Proton products that are built right here in Tanjung Malim, using parts made in Malaysia for the domestic market as well as for our export models and be able to stand comparison with competitors from around the world. This is a commitment Proton, as Malaysia’s iconic automotive brand, is making to ensure the Malaysian automotive industry continues to develop world class competencies,” explained Syed Faisal.

Proton’s long-term goal is to re-establish itself as a market leader domestically while growing its presence internationally, particularly in ASEAN right-hand drive markets.

Proton’s first ever SUV, the X70, will be assembled at the Tanjung Malim plant in 2019. It will first be launched in fully-imported (CBU China) form in November 2018. You can read all about the Honda CR-V rival, here.