Steane Klose | Apr 1, 2008

Proton Holdings Bhd managing director, Datuk Syed Zainal, has announced that the company is planning to develop its own high performance petrol engines and is also looking to develop a diesel power plant.

The announcement comes as the Malaysian car-maker prepares to enter a wider range of export markets. According to Zainal, Proton will also need their own high performance and diesel powerplants if they are to meet the challenges present in their increasingly competitive domestic market. Proton have also promised to build cars with passion and soul, which are a delight to drive and a pleasure to own – perhaps an attitude that has permeated the manufacturer since their purchase of Lotus.

"Work is under way to explore the development of high performance 1.8 and two-litre engines and we are also in talks with several foreign parties and will announce something by mid-year. I do not think a local partner can offer us the capability to develop a 'next level' engine," he said, adding that an eventual tie-up should finalise Proton's engine product planning for the next five years," said Zainel.

Zainel said Proton was only considering foreign partners as local Malaysian companies would not be able to provide Proton the desired technology to move forward.

"Going forward, the next generation and higher segment (Proton) cars will need 1.8- and a two-litre power plants as well as a diesel. As well a lot of markets are migrating from petrol to diesel and it is important for Proton not to be left behind."

Proton have their sights firmly set on the Indian car market and Zainal has confirmed that Proton are developing a strategy for the sub-continent. An announcement is expected to be made when the time is right.

"New export markets that we want to penetrate, like India and China, have high demand for diesel and for us not to have diesel engines incorporated in our cars would be a mistake."

Zainel also announced that Proton is gearing up for the launch of its first MPV, that we should expect to see around March 2009.

A relative newcomer to the league of auto manufacturers, Proton was established in 1983, and is now Malaysia's largest manufacturer of automobiles.

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