Proton announced that it has sent sixteen staff members to Hangzhou, China for a six-month training stint to learn about new energy vehicles (NEV). Again, the term NEV is commonly used in China to refer to electrified vehicles including mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles (BEV).

The Proton delegates will be based at the Geely Research Institute in Ningbo and trained in multiple areas involving development, integration, manufacturing, sales and service in anticipation of a new generation of vehicles that will be gradually introduced by the national brand.

It is the first group of Proton employees to undergo NEV-related training although more will be sent over in the future as Proton leverages on Geely’s technical knowledge to develop its own range of NEVs. The work attachment in China will also benefit Proton staffers when deciding on the final specifications of the smart #1 – the first EV to be sold by Proton’s subsidiary Pro-Net.

The smart #1 is slated to arrive in Malaysia in Q4 of 2023 followed by Thailand in mid-2024 after a general distributorship agreement signing between Proton and smart. The former is targeting to sell between 800 and 1,000 units of smart vehicles annually in Malaysia, with a long term goal of 10,000 units annually by 2027.

At the training, Proton staffers will be providing input on usage patterns and user behaviour to ensure that future products cater to the needs of Malaysians. The ultimate goal is to acquire new knowledge and skills to help steer the company’s future direction, according to Proton.

“When Proton and Geely started collaborating in 2017, one of the pillars of the partnership was for Proton to accelerate its model development timetable by incorporating technologies readily available from Geely. That has been successfully done and now, we are leveraging the global experience of the group in NEVs to give our own model development timeline a boost,” said Dr. Li Chunrong, CEO of Proton.

He added, “Our initial plan was for the programme to begin sooner but was put on hold by the pandemic. With travel restrictions easing, Proton can now reap the benefit of being part of one of the most diverse and forward-thinking collective of automotive brands.”