Proton has established a new company to handle sales and distributorship for smart vehicles and its own new energy vehicle (NEV) offerings in the future. NEV is a China term for electrified vehicles, which includes mild hybrids and PHEVs. A fully-owned subsidiary of Proton, Proton New Energy Technology (Pro-Net) will be run by a separate management team and staff will consist of external hires from various industries.
Leading Pro-Net as CEO is Zhang Qiang, who has a long history in the automotive industry in China and has been at Proton for the last five years focusing on sales and network development. Key members include chief brand officer Salawati Mohd Yusoff, a 25-year auto industry veteran; and chief information officer Sua Chek Hoong, a newcomer to Proton with 20 years of experience in the communications and IT industry.
Pro-Net management will report to a board of directors headed by Proton CEO Li Chunrong and supported by deputy CEO Roslan Abdullah, CFO Wang Huaibing, and VP of human capital and admin Amran Mohd Tomin.
Sales of smart EVs are scheduled to start here in early Q4 2023, and the first model will be the smart #1. Pro-Net is now laying the foundations, and a top priority will be the deployment of charging solutions for customers, both home and public.
“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 specialising in the development and running of charging stations,” Li said.
“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,” he added.
“The NEV 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,” Li continued.
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,” the Proton chief added.
Last month, Proton and smart formalised their partnership with the signing of a general distributorship agreement that will see P1 sell and service smart vehicles in Malaysia and Thailand. Proton aims to sell 800-1,000 units of smart vehicles annually in Malaysia, and is targeting 10,000 units by 2027. More on the smart #1 EV here.
GALLERY: smart #1
GALLERY: smart #1 Launch Edition
GALLERY: smart #1 Premium