One year and one day on from the launch of the Proton X70, the CKD version of the SUV has finally entered production at the Tanjung Malim factory. The first locally-assembled units are rolling out of an extension of the plant, which cost RM1.2 billion to develop.

The car is largely identical to the one that was imported from China, with the exception of the new Proton roundel in front that replaces the previous shield-shaped badge. There will apparently be more changes to be found inside, which include a powered tailgate and possibly a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

We expect the car to soldier on with the same 1.8 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine as before, and in China this very configuration produces the same 181 hp, but an extra 15 Nm of torque at 300 Nm. The CKD X70 will be launched very soon, and we will of course be there to bring you full coverage.

The national carmaker says that it has fulfilled its promise it made at the launch of the imported model, to commence production of CKD units by the end of 2019. And that’s just the beginning – Tanjung Malim will also be hub of joint venture partner Geely’s right-hand drive production, with global exports in the pipeline.

A map flashed up on the screen during the event showed various planned export markets, which not only included regional countries such as Brunei, Thailand and Indonesia, but also those further abroad like Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, South America and even the United Kingdom.

“By producing the Proton X70 in Tanjung Malim, we have taken a quantum leap in our abilities and this is by far our most ambitious undertaking to date,” said chairman Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar. “This new plant will not only produce future products jointly developed with Geely but it will also be a centre for right-hand drive production as we begin exports to countries all over the world.”

Geely president and CEO An Conghui said, “Proton has undergone a tremendous transformation over the past two years. This experience has worked out very well for us at Geely Auto as we are happy to help Proton realise its global aspirations. We will continue to support Proton as it grows in the Malaysian market and in the wider ASEAN region and beyond.”