New Proton company to handle electrified cars, smart cars on sale by Q4, 2023

Zhang Qiang (middle) will lead PRO-NET and will be supported by Sua and Salawati.

SUBANG JAYA: Proton is moving forward with its electrification plans with the set up of a new company to spearhead sales and distributorship for smart vehicles and its own future "new energy vehicle" offerings.

Proton New Energy Technology Sdn Bhd (PRO-NET) is a fully owned subsidiary of Proton and will be run by a separate management team. Operations staff will consist of external hires from various industries.

Leading the subsidiary as chief executive officer will be 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.

Other key members include Salawati Mohd Yusoff, a 25-year auto industry veteran as chief brand officer, and Sua Chek Hoong, a newcomer to Proton with 20 years of experience in the communications and IT industry, as chief information officer.

The management team will report to a board of directors headed by Proton chief executive officer Dr Li Chunrong and supported by deputy Roslan Abdullah, chief financial officer Wang Huaibing and vice president for human capital & administration Amran Mohd Tomin.

The umbrella term "new energy vehicle" was coined by the Chinese government and refers to battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell electric vehicles.

Group Photo of Board of Director and management team

The formation of PRO-NET followed the signing of a distribution agreement on Aug 18 with smart Automobile Co to sell and service smart electric vehicles (EVs) in Malaysia and Thailand.

Sales of smart electric vehicles are scheduled to start in early Q4 2023.

The first model offered to Malaysians will be the smart #1 and PRO-NET is now laying the foundations for its introduction.

A top priority for the company will be the deployment of charging solutions for customers and current plans call for the deployment of a home
based and public charging network.

“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.

"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,” said Dr Li.

“The new energy vehicle 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."

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