Besides a certain stubborn virus, there was no doubt that the Proton X50 took up most of the limelight in 2020 in the minds of your average car-enthused Malaysian. Though nearly everything about the new model was taken from the Geely Binyue, we could at least take some consolation in that it had undergone a thorough localisation effort and is assembled in Tanjung Malim.
However, its engine, a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol mill, remained a key component of the X50 that was a ‘CBU’ from China. That could all change this year if some new information lifted from the 2021 annual report of Sapura Industrial Berhad proves accurate.
In line with a more aggressive CKD push from the national automaker, the vendor is aiming to be a part of Proton’s global supply chain as they expand their export market reach by being an active participant in the Proton-Geely GEP3 (Global Engine Petrol 3) new engine program.
According to the industrial vendor, they have received Letters of Award to soon begin supplying components for the local manufacture of the 1.5-litre turbo engine in both standard and higher output direct-injection variants, which in the X50 range produces 150PS/226Nm and 177PS/255Nm respectively.
The parts in question, according to the document, include the Torsional Vibration Damper, Exhaust Camshaft, and Intake Camshaft. It also added that the GEP3 engine is due to replace the current CamPro-branded engines that have served Proton models since 2005 in some form or another.
Of course, the phasing out of all legacy engines in favour of newer Geely designs will take some time but does at least flesh out the prospect of cars such as the Iriz, Persona, Saga, and Exora receiving them in the foreseeable future, presumably paired with the X50’s 7-speed dual-clutch transmission as well.
In the short term at least, a steady local supply of these engines could definitely put a big dent in overcoming the long waitlist period that is currently afflicting the X50 and its future owners. However, while the shift to locally built engines is likely to take place some time within the next 12 months, there’s no telling when exactly we can expect it to happen without some official word from a tight-lipped Proton.