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Proton strikes EV deal with European firm

Connected: The Proton Persona is one of two cars to form the basis for Detroit Electric's new range of electric vehicles.

Proton teams up with Detroit Electric to produce electric vehicles

6 Apr 2009

PROTON has struck a deal with Dutch-based electric vehicle (EV) outfit Detroit Electric which is expected to generate more than $US550 million ($A764.7 million) in revenue for the Malaysian car manufacturer over the next four years.

Under the deal announced last week, Detroit Electric will license two Proton vehicle platforms – understood to be the Persona and Gen.2 – and contract the company to assemble the EVs under the Detroit Electric nameplate.

Proton will also have the ability to distribute, market and sell the EVs under its own brand in Asia, although it has not committed to a timeframe.

The Proton-based Detroit Electric vehicles will have modified styling and feature Detroit Electric’s patented drive system that uses “magnetic flux motor technology” and lithium-ion batteries.

According to Detroit Electric, the system enables a single-charge range of 180km for its urban-oriented model variant and 325km for an extended-range version.

This is the first manufacturing base for the ambitious Detroit Electric, which plans to sell 40,000 of the EVs in its first year.

Its stated aim is to produce and market a full line of pure-electric vehicles in the US, the UK, Europe and China from early next year, achieving 270,000 annual sales by 2012.

43 center imageLeft: Proton Gen.2.

The EVs will be priced from $US23,000 ($A32,000) for the “city range” version and from $US28,000 ($A39,000) for the extended-range model.

Detroit Electric chairman and chief executive Albert Lam said the agreement with Proton would put Detroit Electric on the fast track to bring a full line of innovative, practical and affordable pure electric vehicles to the global market.

“We chose Proton due to its state-of-the-art production facility, commitment to research and development, cost efficiency, and stable, high-quality workforce," he said.

“Our vehicles will be reliable, meet all quality and safety requirements, and quite simply outperform internal-combustion engine vehicles of the same class. They will be affordable as we look at the competitive market and come without the polluting carbon emissions.” Mr Lam said Detroit Electric was in the final stages of setting up two subsidiaries: Detroit Electric Energy, which will produce the battery technology, and Detroit Electric Advanced Propulsion Lab, which will manufacture the motor and controller. The latter will be located near Proton’s Tanjong Malim assembly plant.

Detroit Electric aims to be producing more than 400,000 electric drive systems in Malaysia by 2012, supplying its own needs as well as those of third-party original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Detroit Electric will be responsible for the homologation of the vehicles and for vehicle certification in its target markets. It will also assume all warranty and liabilities for the EVs, while Proton will warranty the vehicle’s build and standard components.

To achieve its objectives, the EV firm is looking to seal similar “contract production partnership” deals in Europe and the US.

“When you are trying to redefine the automotive industry, you need to bring many partners along,” Mr Lam said.

“Our contract manufacturing business model will breathe new life into current manufacturers, leveraging existing unutilised global resources and accelerating the technological advancement of pure electric vehicles.”

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