Proton is looking to engage a local partner or distributor for retailing its vehicles in India on the lines of the Mitsubishi-Hindustan Motors partnership.

Proton Iriz
The Iriz is a global small car from Proton and has potential in the Indian market

Malaysian carmaker Proton has been planning to enter the Indian car market for quite some time now, but none of its plans have seen the light yet. Now, a recent report suggests that Proton is looking for local partners or distributors to set up an assembly facility in the country for commencing sales of its cars. Having spoken to Proton’s Chief Technical Officer, Abdul Rashid Bin Musa at the ongoing Bangkok Motor Show, the report stated that Proton is looking to overcome certain barriers that are causing a hindrance to the launch of the brand.

In Malaysia, diesel is limited to use mostly by commercial vehicles and Proton too has more petrol engines to its credit than diesels, which will be a major negative in the diesel driven market of ours. Nonetheless, the company does have small cars in its portfolio that form the bulk of sales in India and this is where the ‘Iriz’ global small car steps in. Measuring 3920 mm in length with a wheelbase of 2555 mm, the Iriz complies with the sub 4-metre excise norm and will be competing in the B-segment hatchback space in the country, competing against the Maruti Swift, Hyundai Grand i10, Volkswagen Polo and the likes.

Internationally, the Proton Iriz is powered by 1.3-litre and 1.6-litre VVT petrol engines that meet the Euro 4 emission norms. In India though, both the units do not qualify for the small car excise benefits that will pose as a barrier to the company and the Malaysian manufacturer will have to use a 1.2-litre or smaller engine to avail the small car tag and price the model competitively. Apart from the small hatchback, Proton also has a sedan and MPV in its portfolio, but misses out on an SUV, another popular segment in the country.

Elaborating on engaging a local partner or distributor, Proton stated that it is looking at the Mitsubishi-Hindustan Motors (HM) business model which has the Japanese automaker assemble its vehicles at HM’s facilities and the Lancer maker does not have a local manufacturing unit of its own. At present, HM assembles the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport for the Indian market at its Chennai facility and has a similar agreement with Isuzu for locally assembling the MU-7 SUV and D-Max pickup truck, till the latter’s new facility is operational in the following years.

Proton Iriz Rear
The Proton Iriz retails at Rs. 7.21 lakhs (Indian equivalent) in Malaysia

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