Remember Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent visit to Japan revealed his wish to start a new nation car? It looks like local tycoon Syed Mokhtar Albukhary of DRB-Hicom and China company Geely co-owned Proton Holdings Berhad was swift to respond to the premier’s statement by offering a taste of ex-national car’s muscle.
Proton offered Dr Mahathir to test drive of their new unnamed sports utility vehicle (SUV), thus debuting the first locally made SUV. The company also discussed with Dr Mahathir about the future of Proton prior to the test drive at Prime Minister Office last Friday (Jun 22), according to a post published by the premier’s official Facebook page yesterday.
When asked about the driving experience of the yet-to-released SUV, Dr Mahathir had given a wave of great reviews during a press conference at the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia headquarters yesterday (Jun 25). He said, “it’s very good. I found the quality to be very high and I think it’s a good car for the market.”
The Star reported that Dr Mahathir had urged Geely Group chairman Li Shufu to allow Malaysian companies to supply the components rather than importing from China.
“We want him (Li) to bring in manufacturers from China to help Malaysian manufacturers via joint ventures.
“Otherwise, they will bring in parts from other countries and Malaysian vendors will have to close down, which is not fair – and he agreed,” he told the media.
According to renowned car review site PaulTan.org, the unit is based on Geely Boyue and it is expected to be launched in October as a fully-imported (CBU) offering from China. The assemble locally (CKD) version of the car would launch next year, it would also see more design changes where Proton based on.