National automaker Proton will be sectioning the ‘new energy vehicle’ part of their business under a newly established subsidiary, Pro-Net following their 18th August signing of a general distributorship agreement (GDA).
Pro-Net will be the same new distributor that will be handling the sale of the Smart #1 (and the brand’s forthcoming cars) in both Malaysia and Thailand, so it’s also fitting that they also establish themselves as a presence in the post-combustion powertrain tech space.
NEW ENERGY VEHICLE = Electrification
Proton New Energy Technology Sdn Bhd or just Pro-Net for short, it will be run by a separate management team with an operational staff consisting of external hires from various industries. Zhang Qiang, a veteran of the automotive industry in China, will be at the helm as CEO reporting to a board of directors headed by Proton’s chief executive, Li Chunrong, supported by deputy CEO Roslan Abdullah.
The first order of business is to lay the groundwork for Smart #1’s introduction into Southeast Asia with the deployment of charging solutions both public and home-based being a top priority.
“Our studies show consumer hesitancy to adopt new energy vehicles is tied to their concern about charging availability. Pro-Net intends to address the issue with a two-pronged approach combining the installation and maintenance of home-based chargers with a comprehensive public network to be built with partners specializing in the development and running of charging stations,” said Li.
As a Proton subsidiary, Pro-Net has a responsibility to ensure our products and services are accessible to all Malaysians regardless of where they reside so in addition to fixed chargers, we are also considering mobile solutions to expand our reach,”
“The new energy vehicle industry is growing exponentially, and Pro-Net wants to be a major part of it both in Malaysia and abroad. As these new offerings will not be weighed down by previous model lines or even traditional service operations, it is an opportunity for Proton to reframe its customer experience and reposition itself as a mobility provider that can attract new and traditional buyers,”
“We are at the beginning of our new energy journey but with today’s official announcement regarding Pro-Net, our plans will gain momentum leading to more developments in the months and years ahead,” he added.
Smart #1 Will Kickstart Pro-Net
While most of the world refers to these kinds of fully or partially electric vehicles, for example, as mild hybrids, series hybrids, plug-in (parallel) hybrids, or EVs, the more encompassing term ‘NEV’ is more commonly used in China and includes every vehicle that isn’t solely powered (or at all) by internal combustion.
We won’t speculate on the scope of Pro-Net’s to-do list and if they include any new ground-up technologies, but it would be fair to assume that the majority of their output will be adapting the existing systems already developed by Geely, eventually bringing the supply and manufacturing pipeline to a local level.
Proton’s own electrification roadmap for their own cars should start with the introduction of mild-hybrid engines to provide an inexpensive efficiency boost to the powertrain lineup. This is likely to be followed by a plug-in hybrid and, in due time, perhaps even a fully electric model.