16 September 2011

Proton latest venture - back with Mitsubishi?

Both Proton Holdings and Mitsubishi Motor Corporation (MMC) made an announcement yesterday about their latest venture. Dato Seri Mohd Nadzmi, Proton's chairman announced that the discussion with its old partner is at the final stage, where the detailing on investment on such JV are being determined, all to be tabled out within two months. The exciting new ventures was announced yesterday after Annual General Meeting, which also flashed some photos of their latest upcoming model, Exora facelift and Persona R (P3-21A). Meanwhile, MMC issued the same statement in Tokyo.

Datuk Seri Syed Zainal later elaborated that the collaboration will cover wide range of areas which will help both companies achieve economies of scale and hence reducing the cost of development. Key areas outlined were:
  • Powertrain family range - Proton to manufacture MMC engine both utilization of both companies. This will reduce the new engine development time frame by 18-24 month, not too mentioned about cost saving too. The engine could be manufactured in Proton's TGM plant where Proton is ready to invest in high-capital equipment such as casting facilities
  • Collaborate on production facilities - Proton to become OEM assembler to MMC car for its international market, as well as Malaysia. Mitsubishi ASX is tipped to be one of the model of interest.
  • Product and platform collaboration - This is said to be between Mitsubishi Global Small and Proton Global Small Car project. Other than that sharing of parts bin and non-core model sharing is also outlined
  • Provision of MMC future technology - this cover the electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid and hybrid drivetrain
The event also saw the unveiling for imminent product launching for Proton. Datuk Seri Syed Zainal also mentioned that the Proton Exora facelift is due to make its debut in two months time, where the long-waited Campro turbocharged will make an appearance. A glimpse of Persona R (P3-21A) was seen too.

The P3-21a sports a safe design, which intend to offend no one, especially the conservative buyers. The front design is Volkswagen/Seat kind of face, which is formal, sombre, bland and a tad boring. But it should aged well. The sketch also revealed some strong body character line, which runs along the waistline and along the sill. The wheel arches are slightly flared, but more prominent than Exora. Side profile is sleek, with arching roofline. The suspected similarities with old Mazda3 is now diminished. From this perspective, it looks as if P3-21a will break into 4.5m length, which is bigger than Persona/Waja and could be similar to 4570mm Inspira. Maybe the next Saga will grow in size, from sub 4.3m to 4.4m.
The Exora facelift meanwhile sports a new front end. Smoked headlamps look likely from this photo. Airvent at the outer edge of the bumper eliminate the square jaw of current Exora design. At the back, the overdone tail lamps graphic could possibly be toned down when the smoked-effect make an appearance, meaning the lights now will be monotone and the garish mix of chrome, red and clear lens will be gone. Lower bumper garnish like the Inspira is featured too. Proton also mentioned that "Exora Prime" will see the light of production, albeit in exclusive 6 seater configuration.