Possibilities of setting up a local assembly (CKD) project for Smart models in Malaysia is now officially being studied upon the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between Smart Automobile and Proton at the annual 2023 China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) in Nanning.
“The new MoA between Proton and Smart Automobile brings our collaboration to a new level as now we are talking about assembling Smart models in Malaysia. As an automotive manufacturer, Proton always intended to raise our involvement with smart beyond distribution for the ASEAN region as there are many efficiencies to take advantage of because both companies are members of the Geely Group,” said Dr. Li Chunrong, Chief Executive Officer of Proton.
A similar agreement was signed between the two companies in 2022, which led to the appointment of Proton as the official distributor for Smart vehicles in Malaysia and Thailand through a General Distributorship Agreement (GDA) inked in August last year. Proton also sent groups of workers to China for on-job-training stints focusing on the EV industry to build a local talent pool specific to the EV market.
“Proton has committed to introducing more New Energy Vehicles (NEV) in the future. After the launch of the Proton X90, our first NEV, we are excited by the opportunity to learn more about EVs from our collaboration with smart. Going forward, all our production activities will be centred at the Automotive High Tech Valley (AHTV) in Tanjung Malim, which will also help in our goal to turn Malaysia into a regional EV hub,” added Dr. Li Chunrong.
This comes after the April 2023 signing of Heads of Agreement (HoA) between Proton’s parent company, DRB-Hicom, and Geely to develop the Automotive High-Tech Valley (AHTV) facility in Tanjung Malim. According to DRB-Hicom, AHTV will attract RM 32 billion worth of investments from ‘other brands’ besides Proton and Geely.
With the new MoA signing that will see both parties studying the feasibility of locally assembling Smart vehicles in Proton’s Tanjung Malim plant, it seems plausible that the ‘other brands’ mentioned could involve Smart Automobiles.
Also read: Smart's official entry into Malaysian market: Introducing the Smart #1, a premium EV from China - starts at RM 200k!
Smart #1, the first Smart model imported form China (CBU), will be offered in 3 variants - Pro, Premium, and Brabus - with price starting from RM 200,000 to RM 250,000. Its official launch is scheduled for Q4 2023. As of now, a total of 9 dealers will support the launch of Smart #1 in Malaysia.