20 January 2013

Proton Past Patents - MSX, Sepang & NEF

It's Sunday night, and instead of chilling to perfection, yours truly was surfing the patent website in pursuit of several patent for work purposes. Lifeless isn't it? Anyway, in the middle of boredom I remembered of several Proton patent that rocked the internet back in 2004-2005. There are many more, including the main and component of Proton Satria Neo (SRM back then), Savvy (TRM during its inception), as well Exora. Some are patented in Korean patent website too. Anyway, instead of looking at what you can find on the road, lets look at something you either can't see, or worst still, seen as something else.

First up is the NEF engine, a V6 engine family that is listed USD597104, showcasing the aesthetic of the engine. Paultan did some coverage on this engine HERE, the range comprises of a modular 2.2L and 3.0L Supercharged V6 mill kicking some 300bhp@6,250rpm and 360Nm@4,500rpm for the latter. It was tested in Waja prototype sometimes back. It was fitted to the Proton MSX concept (world knew it as Lotus APX). Do you that Proton MSX, thanks to its all aluminium construction (VVA platform, an advanced hybrid of cast, extrusion and stamped aluminium hold together with a combination of rivet and adhesive) weights mere 1.5 tonne and projected to reach 270 km/h top speed? Porsche Cayenne surely can't run too far from this car if it is ever made.

RFOB View of Proton's V6 engine
This patent covers only the outlook. The technical innovations were not included. We can see from here the engine RFOB with its transmission fixing, FFOB with all the front end auxillary and side view exposing the placement of cylinder block, front cover, bedplate and oil sump, including the accessories too such as the oil cooler and things.
Side view, you can see the arrangement from oil sump upwards

Next up is the car that was fitted with the NEF engine. It is none other than Proton MSX, published in USD566619. To prove that this car is meant to be Proton instead of Lotus APX (oh well, as if the Waja side-mirror was not obvious of a clue), the aesthetic patented here bears the Proton logo elongated outline instead of Lotus circular item. After these years, it still look stunning. There was MMN old article about Proton MSX HERE, but as I worked a bit on this car so I don't dare to say much. More after the jump.

Rear View - look at the emblem outline, Proton shape innit?

Last but not least is the Proton Sepang project, as uncovered by Autocar UK late 2004 HERE. The world knew it as Lotus Europa. The patent drawing here, as the MSX above, bears Proton logo outline. Where it was circular on Europa, its is our familiar shape here. The design is patented under USD517950.

Proton resurrected back this car in 2010 for KL Motor Show. Showcased as Proton Lekir, it hinted at a possible Proton sportscar, if ever.

Proton today is different from what is was back in 2004 and 2005. Back at that time, the model range was severely unfocused. In the portfolio, there was Proton Gen2, Proton Waja, Proton Savvy, sets of rehashed Proton Wira and Saga, with certain insignificance of Proton Arena, Satria and Juara. Not all of them are WANTED car unfortunately. These days, they have a more mass-friendly Proton Saga BLM, Proton Persona, Proton Preve, Proton Exora MPV and to certain extend, Satria Neo. But still Proton is nowhere near the top of sales car, not even a close second. What went wrong?

Does the nation suddenly develop the passion for small hatchback? Impossible. Why it looks like it? Case of perceived value I would guess. Talk about DNA and pedigree. Not the sporting type that is. But more like, as mundanely reliable and distantly look like a foreign brand as possible.

It is not about wrong product portfolio anymore. It is about everything. From the car  to the people who made it, designed it, assembled it, selling it and serviced it.Total change is needed. Even Toyota sold is sniffing second place. How unthinkable.

What I am trying to impart here is that the first-cut innovation is already inside Proton, be it from the local gun, or strategic alliances and takeover, it is there. But the execution - from the business case towards a cohesive, sustainable engineering prowess is what lacking.

DRB-HICOM takeover hopefully can change things. Some unsteadiness is needed in the entire chain. Key personnel change has been observed, new product variant can already be seen. DRB-HICOM has also bought the whole of PETRONAS engine technology. It is at least a modern engine, nearing a completion soon (also I don't dare saying much as I used to work on it). Who can restore Proton to its former glory? Or do we even need that...?

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