The Smart brand will be making its official return to the Malaysian market in the fourth quarter of 2023. Proton has signed a General Distributorship Agreement (GDA) to sell and service vehicles from the now EV-only Smart Automobile Company in Malaysia and Thailand.
This will mark Proton’s entry into EVs. To make it easier for its customers to move to EVs, the company also has plans to invest in a charging network by collaborating with local charging providers to install domestic units for customers who intend to charge their vehicles at home.
Proton also has intentions to model retail operations for Smart by emphasising the integrated digital lifestyle and other elements that will connect customer preferences with a connected digital solution.
One more part of the GDA also includes the hope to attract young talents to join the company. With the rapid shift in job preferences for new workers, Proton hopes sustainability and EV focus direction would appeal to the next generation of automotive industry workers.
“Today marks a big step for Proton’s entry into the new energy vehicle market. The first phase of business with Smart is focused on retailing but it provides us with valuable knowledge and experience on not only how to service and charge EVs but also how to transform the way we interact with our customers,” said Dr Li Chunrong, Proton’s Chief Executive Officer.
“The move into this market segment will also help drive Proton’s move towards being more environmentally friendly in all facets of our operation as we work to help Malaysia achieve its carbon neutrality target by 2050.”
Smart EVs in Malaysia will be handled by a new Proton distributor known as Proton New Energy Technology. The first Smart EV that Proton will be launching will be the Smart #1 which has a range of up to 560 km and comes with a rear-mounted electric motor that dispenses 272 PS and 343 Nm.
Prices and specifications for the Malaysian Smart #1 model has yet to be confirmed, sales will only start in Q4 2023.