Home » Socio-economy » Proton and its hybrid misadventures

Proton and its hybrid misadventures

Back in February 2012, I wrote about the generous funds being given to Proton for the past few years in order for it to develop a national hybrid car.

Bringing up to the speed on the little facts that we have gathered so far from the previous article I wrote:

a) In 2010, Proton obtained a RM270 million grant to develop hybrid cars

b) Mass production of hybrid cars are scheduled to commence in 2012.

c) 30 hybrid cars were to be delivered by end 2011 and even this promise was hardly kept.

d) Proton has cash balance of RM1.2 billion in March 2011.

e) Consequent press statements revealed that 200 hybrid cars were scheduled to be delivered only in 2013.

f) Proton is in a joint venture with Fraser – Nash Research Ltd (FNR) to develop this technology and it seems that FNR were fully paid upfront without any regards for its deliverables.

I asked 4 questions pertaining this matter:

1) What is the status of these hybrid cars which are currently being used by the government officials? The Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry or Proton needs to state the road worthiness of the cars. Are all those 30 units doing perfectly well? This is important since RM270 million of government’s money were given to Proton to develop it.

2) Since RM270 million was a grant and not a soft loan, the cost of each car (at R & D stage) is roughly about RM9 million. Slightly more expensive than a Bentley Continental. Is this justified?

3) Proton has cash balance of RM1.2 billion as at March 2011. Why would it need a further GRANT from the government of RM270 million? Surely RM270 million can be used elsewhere other than the cash rich Proton.

4) How much of this RM270 million being paid to third party such as Fraser – Nash and others?

 This is the latest news as of yesterday:

Proton electric car coming in 2014, Parliament told

Proton will be selling electric vehicles by 2014, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed told Parliament yesterday. The national car company is currently collaborating with UK-based Frazer-Nash Research to develop its own EV.

In a reply to Gombak MP Azmin Ali, the MITI minister said that Proton had allocated RM500 million for research and development in green technology and is expected to gain profits after commercialising EVs in 2014, The Star reported.

The PKR man asked MITI to state the rationale of investment by Proton through Frazer-Nash, to which Mustapa replied that Proton’s R&D spend is much smaller than other car manufacturers.

It was pointed out that GM invested about US$1.2 billion to develop its Chevrolet Volt while Nissan-Renault has allocated US$5.6 billion for the same purpose. Allegations that Proton spent some RM270 million to test 30 cars and each cost about RM9 million were untrue, Mustapa said.

Meanwhile, Bernama reports that the government is ready to allocate RM120 million next year to Proton for the development of an EV before it can be commercialised mid-2014.

The government allocated RM100 million this year for Proton to develop a hybrid and electric model and will consider an allocation of RM120 million next year for research and development. All this depends on Budget 2013 which will be tabled by the Prime Minister tomorrow (today) and on Proton meeting its key performance index target,” Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said.

So, apart from RM120 million they will provide next year, Proton had already been given RM100 in 2012. This is on top of the RM270 million grant given in 2010. This is a total of  RM490 million of grants given to Proton in the span of 4 years in order to mass produce hybrid cars in 2014.

The deadline had been pushed further and further as the years goes by. Basically a two year plan has now been stretched to 4 years with unsuccessful piecemeal products being manufactured during the period.

Word has it that those 30 pilot cars were not up to standard and are no longer running due to breakdowns. In other words, they are not road worthy. Proton and FNR failed in  their job and yet we reward them with more money.

After the takeover of Proton from Khazanah Nasional last May, Proton is now under the ownership of DRB Hicom. Why would the government pump more money to a privately owned company where the ultimate owner is already cash rich and could definitely stand on its own two feet?

The purpose of Proton shares being sold was to limit its dependence from the government. And yet, Proton is still being treated with silver spoon eventhough it is no longer the direct responsibility of the government.

Dato’ Lukman Ibrahim, the current boss of Proton has so much to answer for this slush of funds coming in.

Is there no key monitoring process being done within the Proton management whereby a hybrid cars R & D of this magnitude has been deemed a failure and yet, they still continue with this venture regardless?

The Proton management will be held accountable for this lack of willpower to call a spade a spade and make the hard choice of terminating any joint venture with a 3rd party research company which could not deliver.

The RM120 million allocated to them in the national budget should have been allocated somewhere else which could be more useful to the rest of the people instead of being invested in a wild goose chase where the cost has begun to outweigh its benefit.

4 years and RM490 million down the road with only 30 lousy cars to show for is definitely a joke.

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15 Comments

  1. So, you want me to astound you with my intelligence, ye? Ermm.. how about you give me a RM270 million grant first :P

    • Isa says:

      From the name you use, one can already tell that you are not likely to be able to astound anybody with your intelligence. Asking a RM270 million grant without any justification or explanation makes you appear completely devoid of any intelligence.

      Since you don’t explain, I don’t have to, too.

  2. Adam says:

    People who don’t know how to do business shouldn’t be doing business

  3. zack dean says:

    i am working with Proton, and my friend works in the dept that related to this EV projects… he faced the problems that slowing down Proton EV development… and he told me where all the money goes…

    It is intervention of the political people that failed us, Proton… That is why he hates Mahathir so much…

    • Hang Nadim says:

      You are just making wild, unsubstantiated allegations, man. Sounding very much like Opposition blokes. Pretending to be working in Proton and trying to quote an EV dept “friend”.

      If you are telling the truth, come out with the facts, man. Verifiable facts, too. Or at least information or arguments that sounds plausible. Not just saying, “he told me where all the money goes…” Or whatever in your second para. Without any details. Anwar Al Juburi (a title awarded by Mat Sabu) could have said those and we know how he bluffs, twists and bends at times. Beckham bends the ball into the goal but Anwar also bends into the goal.

      Let’s talk straight, shall we? You want to blow the whistle on your employers, blow it properly. Make sure you have a neat sounding whistle in the first place. Make your complaints sound constructive. Or look for another job where there is no hanky panky. Remember, huge US corporations like Enron also went bust. And Bernard Madoff made off with US50 billion of fellow Jews’ money – those supposedly smart, prudent and demanding-pound-of-flesh Jews!

      • zack dean says:

        you may speak whatever you want…

        I am no Opposition supporter, nor UMNO/BN… a bystander i must say….

        the fact is… I am working in Proton, and also my friend…

        • James Dean says:

          So, what’s your point? Just say here, say there, loose statements, unjustified opinions, no details, no authoritative sources quoted?

          Be responsible lah. If you don’t want to divulge the details, quote reliable sources, or name names, then keep quiet lah.

          Not good to cast aspersions like that, Mister.

        • yusri says:

          just come out with facts, zack.
          if your friend hates mahathir so much, then he should have the motivation and collected all the details, facts, sheets, audio/video recording, minutes meeting, files, etc and bring it forward to the public. What the use of hate if you and your friend keeps on working in the company that the person that you hate most is the ultimate advisor and all you can do is post a comment a blog?!!! .. this is what we call ‘takde telor’ or ‘batang berjuntai, tak boleh naik punya barang’.

          • hok aloh says:

            Please come to iGEM 2012 this week from 10th October to 13th October at KLCC convention centre Hall 1. Admission is free. See for yourself if zack is lying from his teeth but u all need to see with intelligence not with what is being displayed and told. Owner of Jebat must die must come too for the same purpose. post pictures in this blog.
            I understand why the person u call “takde telor” did not come with any concrete details on his allegations. ISA is not completely abolish u guys.

            • Guano Mu says:

              Guano you ask people to go but say “u all need to see with intelligence not with what is being displayed and told”? What you got meaning one?

              You sound want to interpret “what is being displayed and told”, if so, why ask people go?. Just you say your interpretation, we think right or not lah.

              You say “ISA is not completely abolish”, what you got meaning one? ISA was repealed lah – finito, kapputz, no more. If you say got a new law, say why it’s same as ISA lah. Just saying “ISA not completely abolished”, how to believe what you people say one?

              And what is iGEM? General Meeting? How come non shareholders can attend one? Bole caya lu ka, Mamat?

              • hok aloh says:

                google la dei what is iGEM 2012..read between the lines la macha. Why people are afraid to voice out under Mahatir’s era? ISA is the reason. eventhough ISA is no more and it is just another ink on Malaysia law book, who wrote ISA?
                check islamic banking..is it truly islamic or just a rebrand of the conventional banking with some tweaking?
                “what is being displayed and told”…means iGEM is an exhibition atmosphere. Exhibitors lie…don’t be a simpleton hoping all the answers comes to u served on a silver platter.

    • Flying turbo says:

      Why still working with proton… Proton don’t need you…

  4. Tempawan says:

    A) when it come to car manufacturing, a R & D figure of RM270 million is peanuts.
    b) proton already had a up and running electric car with ” Detroit” of the Netherlands way back in 2008. Dunno what happened to that Venture. You can google proton Detroit and get the facts.
    C) Frazier Nash was bought over by Syed Mokhtar after Dr M’s visit to UK many many years ago. Maybe in the nineties. unfortunately, the bought the wrong company. They should have bought ” Zevco” which already had a electric London taxi prototype up and running, but unfortunately, Zevco wasn’t managed by an Indian. Frazier Nash was.
    D) the time it takes to charge a electric car is the main stumbling block to instilling consumer interest, apart from the useful driving distance.

  5. Tempawan says:

    And if I am not mistaken, lotus, which is owned by proton, which is owned by DRB Hicom, has a hybrid programme and can easily utilise this into protons cars.
    Fraser Nash actually uses 100% battery operated cars, which is it’s strength.
    So why would proton pay Frazer Nash money when lotus already have these in it’s shelves?

    Can I remind my brothers here that when super mokh ( not the fame striker, but the wheeler dealer fro Yemen) was allowed to buy senai airport, he used his clout to get the state gahmen to acquire lands around the airport, and he sold the whole lot to his public listed company for hundred of millions of ringgit.( almost a billion! But too drunk to find out). His cost was only RM60 million.dunno who paid for the land acquisition.

    Cheers buddies.

    • Anti-DAP says:

      How to believe what you say, man, when you are drunk, saying “if I am not mistaken”, etc?

      You should have stayed in the bar drinking to a state of drunken stupor and not come in here with bad breath and filthy mouth.

      You make the usual Opposition blokes’ wild and unsubstantiated allegations without quoting sources of information or stating who said what, how, when and where.

      Just a drunken fellow’s “opinions” are a no no.

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