29 Apr 2024

  • Research & Development facility enhances cross-border collaboration between PROTON and Geely
  • Upgrades to homegrown models and EV model development among projects being worked on


Ningbo, 29 April 2024 –National carmaker PROTON opened its research and development (R&D) centre in China last Saturday to strengthen its collaborative efforts with its existing partner Zhejiang Geely Holding Ltd (Geely) in a move to complement its existing facilities in Malaysia. Located within the Geely Automobile Research Institute (GRI) at Hangzhou Bay, the opening of PROTON R&D Centre (China) also coincides with the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia.

The event was officiated by Tan Sri Syed Faisal Albar, Chairman of PROTON, together with Syed Farizal Aminy Syed Mohamad, Consul General, Consulate General of Malaysia, Shanghai; Jerry Gan, Chief Executive Officer of Geely Auto Group; Li Chuanhai, President of Zhejiang Geely Automotive Research Institute; Cai Shijie, Deputy Director of Hangzhou Bay New District Administrative Committee; Dr Li Chunrong, Chief Executive Officer, PROTON; along with Roslan Abdullah, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, PROTON.

Also present were Muhammad Zulhilmi Ahmad, Director of Industry Development Division MITI; Kiew Chia Meng, First Secretary of MITI in China; Steven Cheng Seng Hock, Director of MIDA Shanghai Consul (Investment), together with representatives from the Malaysia Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) and other members of PROTON's senior management team.

New centre to enhance PROTON R&D capabilities while facilitating talent and knowledge acquisition

PROTON’s ability to conceptualise, design, develop and manufacture new vehicles from the ground up has differentiated it from other national brands. The company continues to invest and expand R&D facilities locally in Shah Alam and Tanjong Malim, Malaysia while developing an experienced human capital pool. Over the past few decades, PROTON has built up a wealth of competencies unique not only to Malaysia but the ASEAN region as well.

With the opening of PROTON R&D Centre (China), these abilities have now been strengthened by enhancing the synergies of PROTON’s existing in-house competencies with the resources and know-how of Geely. The centre will also help to enhance cross-border collaboration, facilitate knowledge transfer between PROTON and Geely as well as drive innovation for products tailored to meet the needs of PROTON’s customers. Aspiring to mirror the success story of China Euro Vehicle Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, this latest development moves PROTON’s R&D facilities in Malaysia closer to becoming the sixth in the Geely Group’s global network of R&D centres.

To maximise the respective strengths of each partner and to adapt to the strategic development needs of the group, the new centre will draw from the combined expertise and experience of engineers from both Malaysia and China. Eventually, with a workforce of approximately 50 employees, it will become a framework for PROTON and Geely’s international talent training and output.

The new centre is envisaged as a window for joint development between PROTON and Geely where new concepts across all areas are brought to fruition, from top-hat and platform integration for ICE and future EV models to intelligent driving, and project management. This includes the upgrading of PROTON’s homegrown models where the centre will leverage on its joint resources with Geely assisting the work being led by PROTON R&D engineers in Malaysia. PROTON will also be able to enhance its competitiveness by leveraging on Geely’s global footprint.

The centre will also function as a critical liaison platform for PROTON to engage with capable vendors for the continuous development of the Automotive Hi-Tech Valley in Tanjong Malim, Perak, including focusing on full business life cycle areas such as quality, procurement, and manufacturing.

Three core departments under Central Research Institute to oversee daily operations

The new centre has three departments to ensure smooth operations, namely, the Central Research Institute, Data Intelligence Development Centre, and R&D Digitisation Centre. These departments will coordinate closely with their Geely counterparts to leverage local resources in China and are responsible for the development results of their respective teams.

The Central Research Institute is responsible for coordinating the R&D system for vehicles and to strengthen PROTON’s technology capabilities. The Data Intelligence Development includes the research development and delivery of big data and artificial intelligence before formulating product deployment plans, while the R&D Digitisation Centre explores and manages the digitisation needs of the R&D system and formulating of strategies for digital transformation.

In addition, the centre has also established an external cooperation research institute, which will be tasked with the delivery of whole vehicle functions and the development of ecosystem integration for external projects.

Remarking the latest facility, Dr. Li Chunrong, Chief Executive Officer of PROTON said, “We have witnessed the birth of a facility that allows us to work closer than ever with our partners and will inspire connections for years to come while helping to expand PROTON’s global presence.”

“It is our hope this important milestone would enable us to move towards our goal of PROTON becoming the sixth Geely Group R&D centre, while bolstering PROTON’s existing capabilities that are already well established in Malaysia. We remain steadfast in our commitment to pushing boundaries, challenging the status quo, and making endless possibilities for the future of mobility,” he added.