DRB-HICOM Bhd group managing director Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar

KUALA LUMPUR: Proton Holdings can be revitalised into a more successful carmaker once a foreign strategic partner is on-board.

The tie-up, which will likely happen by the first half of this year, will give the national carmaker access to new platforms, powertrains and technologies that will further improve Proton’s range of products and quality.

DRB-HICOM Bhd group managing director Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar said as 100 per cent owner of Proton, DRB-HICOM was committed and confident of reviving Proton’s fortunes with the right partner.

“This revitalisation of Proton’s market share underlines DRB-HICOM’s intent to keep the brand as a player in the automotive market.

“Proton has been in the market since the mid-1980s and it has some brand equity in the domestic market despite past and current challenges,” said Syed Faisal in a statement yesterday.

Recent news reports said the list of potential partners for Proton had been narrowed down to three contenders — Chinese automaker Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, French carmakers PSA Group and Renault SA.

Syed Faisal said DRB-Hicom was waiting for the submission of bids from potential partners, after which an earnest evaluation of the bids would commence.

“The parties have conducted their own due diligence on Proton over the past weeks,” he added.

Syed Faisal said finding the right foreign strategic partner (FSP) for Proton would enable both parties to derive tangible benefits from the range of technology and products available, which would complement each other’s needs in their own markets.

It will ensure that Proton can achieve economies of scale from its domestic operations.

“Proton, too, has plenty to offer to the eventual FSP. First, they will have at their disposal Proton’s own range of affordable cars, such as Persona, Saga, Preve and Iriz.

“Secondly, one of the immediate advantages available to any carmaker partnering with Proton is the ability to immediately increase their production capacity through Proton’s Tanjung Malim Plant in Proton City.

“Finally, Proton has its own in-house research and development team, as well as the lightweight platform technology of Lotus Cars.

“The combined engineering capabilities of Proton and the legendary Lotus Cars offers a FSP enhancements to their current capabilities, which will enable them to enhance their existing research and development capabilities,” said Syed Faisal.

He said the FSP search was not about shirking the national responsibility, but about enhancing Proton as a bona-fide carmaker, and eventually putting the carmaker and Malaysia on the global map.

“We have stated before that we would maintain a significant equity in Proton and this has not changed.

“We shall also assess the intention of the potential partners in utilising the current homegrown vendor network,” said Syed Faisal, adding this was a very significant element in its evaluation as it also owned subsidiaries serving Proton as vendors and would avoid for these homegrown network to be diluted substantially.