There had been some reports floating around that DRB-Hicom was seeking a strategic partnership from a Japanese automaker lately, and we just received word that a deal is now in place. Proton will be teaming up with Honda to develop technology enhancements and a new product lineup, as well as share platforms and facilities.
For the most part, Proton builds cheap econoboxes for the UK market, so the direct team up is really not too inspiring. However, peeling back the skin a little bit, you reveal that this deal will likely include its subsidiary, Lotus. While Lotus would benefit greatly from having the technology that Honda has to offer and some financial relief by building certain components together, we are mostly interested in what this deal could potentially bring Honda.
Honda really doesn’t need Proton, as its econobox lineup is stout, but it is lacking a sports car, ever since the S2000 fizzled out in a fit of torque-lacking rage. With Lotus’ expertise being in the lightweight sports car realm and both Honda and Lotus looking for ways to build sports cars without taking on 100 percent of the risk, a team up between the two would be equally beneficial.
We all heard rumors about the S3000 a few years ago, and Lotus has the perfect line of 3.5-liter, V-6 engines sitting in its Evora lineup. So why not team up on a shared model?
According to reports, DRB-Hicom will be laying out Proton’s business plan next month, which will likely include Lotus updates, so we will keep an eye out for this new business plan, and how Honda and Lotus are involved.
We know that Proton seems to have a fascination with building cars directly resembling those that Mitsubishi makes, but we didn’t think that even their concepts would have their own Mitsubishi flavor to them.
As it turns out, the Malaysian automaker isn’t afraid of channeling their inner love for Mitsubishi as they revealed the Jebat Concept as part of their “Pahlawan” series of concept vehicles at the Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show.
At first glance, it’s easy to spot the references directed towards the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Despite the uncanny resemblances, the Jebat Concept actually has a powertrain all its own with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that produces 237 horsepower.
As far as design goes, the Jebat has unique qualities, including a matte black coat on both the front and rear of the car with a matching strip just around the lower section of the doors. The car also has daytime LED running lights, as well as three bonnet vents, and a rear spoiler that’s unmistakably taken from the Mitsubishi’s Evo performance package. There are also the wide-body style front and rear fenders that you’ll notice once you take a good long look at the car. Finally, Proton decided to add 18-inch wheels to complete the whole sporty and aggressive look.
Speaking of sporty and aggressive, the car’s interior also has some touches of sportiness to it, including Recaro seats with red stitching and a Clarion touch screen ICE system.
There’s no telling if the Jebat Concept will ever see the light of the production line in Malaysia, but if we had a hand on it, we’d like to see it made someday. And when we go to Malaysia sometime whenever, we wouldn’t mind sitting behind the wheel of one.
Unheralded as the Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show is to people from this part of the world, there are still a number of vehicles over there that are worth keeping tabs on. This year, what looked to be a facelifted Lotus Europa made its way to the KLIMS, but upon closer inspection, we discovered that this car was no Lotus.
Well, actually, it was, except that it has been rebadged by Malaysian automaker Proton and given the designation the Lekir Concept. Given the partnership between the two companies, it figures that with the expected end of the Europa’s production run in Europe, Lotus was looking for a new market for their sports car, a market that will welcome it with open arms, even if it has been rebadged under a local brand.
That’s where Proton and Malaysia enter the picture. Unlike the European spec Europa, which came with a Vauxhall-sourced 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that produced over 200 horsepower, the Lekir Concept is scheduled to be powered by a 1.6-liter Campro engine with performance numbers that should be right on par with a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter engine.
Since it’s a concept, details are being kept at a minimum for now. We’re pretty confident though that the car will eventually see the production line sometime soon. The Lotus Europa may have had a premature life span in Europe, but who’s to say that it won’t be successful in Malaysia – and other parts of Asia for that matter – disguised under a different brand and different name?
The infamous automotive stylist from the Mediterranean nation shaped like a boot, Italdesign Giugiaro, is planning to unveil a new compact concept car at the upcoming 2010 Geneva Motor Show in cooperation to the Malaysian automobile manufacturer Proton. The extremely efficient three door, five passenger, hatchback concept will feature a hybrid drive system to reduce fuel consumption and was developed with the aim of optimizing the concept’s available interior space by paying painstaking atention to the vehicle’s ergonomics.
According to the man himself, "You could say that it is a brand new type of car, a new automotive concept where looks are as important as function, ergonomics and comfort, not to mention environmental impact. It is higher than other compact cars to make the best use of interior space; the seat H point is at the same height as the passengers’ hips: you do not get down into your car as in a coupé, you do not climb up as in an SUV but you enter in a natural way. Rear seat comfort when you enter and leave the car is absolutely unprecedented, the distance from the front seat is comparable to that of an SUV."
Press release after the jump.