KUALA LUMPUR: National automaker Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd (Proton) is in the midst of strengthening its electric vehicle (EV) capabilities and plans to launch and produce its own EV by 2027, said its deputy CEO Roslan Abdullah.
Roslan said Proton has been discussing with potential partners to embark on the venture as it could not just jump into producing EVs without understanding how to sell and market the vehicles.
He said Proton’s EV roadmap started 10 years ago, but it was not pursued due to market demand and technologies.
“So, this next five years (until 2027) will give us ample time to determine which technology is most acceptable, easy to maintain and affordable for consumers and us,” he told reporters after the panel discussion at the Invest Malaysia Series 2 event, titled “The Road to EV” here today.
Before migrating into its own EV, Roslan said Proton will gain more experience by collaborating with the Smart Automobile Co Ltd as the latter’s new distributor in Malaysia and Thailand.
“The collaboration with Smart Automobile and the distribution of the smart cars will teach us (Proton) how to assemble EVs locally and give us experience and knowledge on the assembly process,” he said.
Smart Automobile is a joint venture established by Mercedes-Benz AG and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd.
Asked about the challenges new energy vehicles (NEV) face in penetrating the Malaysian market, Roslan said the solutions will require stronger support from the government, better industry readiness and a shift in customer preference towards EVs.
He said sales of NEV increased to 3.4% or 13,800 units year to date, with hybrid EVs being more popular than battery-powered EVs.
“There are major challenges to overcome, requiring time and collective effort.
“These challenges include Malaysia not having many affordable EV cars, slow consumer adoption, lack of clarity on EV charging infrastructure development, talent development in the EV segment and lack of investment in related technologies,” he said.
Roslan said more development and support for the EV industry is necessary for it to move forward.
“This includes research and development programmes, investment in the supply chain, technology and providing better EV infrastructures,” he added. – Bernama