Geely Automobile had plans to use Proton’s underutilized Tanjung Malim plant as a hub to manufacture right-hand drive versions of its newly-launched Lynk & Co 01 SUV as part of its now-aborted bid for a controlling stake in the national carmaker, according a report by Autocar.
The British magazine quoted an unnamed company official who spoke on the condition of anonymity further added that the Tanjung Malim-made vehicles could then be exported to other RHD markets including the UK, Australia, and South Africa.
“Geely has established itself as a reputable middle-class brand in China thanks to its links with Volvo. The purchase of Proton would give it a new entry-level point, which is considered crucial to further growth,” the official said.
In addition to acquiring Proton, Geely also had eyes on Lotus which, according to the official, was high on Chairman Li Shufu’s agenda.
“My chairman is desperate to buy a sports car maker. We’ve spoken to Aston Martin and others, but Lotus has always been the target,” he said.
An earlier report from Reuters mentioned that Geely had also included its GC9 D-segment sedan and Boyue five-seater SUV in its offer for Proton.
The souring of Geely’s interest in Proton had been rumoured for sometime, but was officially confirmed by President An Conghui to the South China Morning Post on Wednesday.
Yesterday, Second Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan told The Star that ‘there were a few other bidders’ in the picture for Proton and that an announcement will be forthcoming in May.