Proton of Malaysia is going hybrid, but doing it with baby cars and maximum flexibility in everything from plug-in power to fuel for a tiny petrol engine. It began the move by unveiling three concept cars at the Geneva Motor Show. They have silly names — EMAS, EMAS Country and EMAS3 — but show Proton is serious about greening its business and creating demand for cars which have yet to hit showrooms outside Malaysia.
"The unveiling of the concept cars reflects the long-term strategy we have in matching global automotive standards as we expand and reinforce our presence worldwide," says Proton's managing director, Syed Zainal. "We strive to listen to our customers to ensure the development of a global car that meets customer's requirements and expectations. The aim is to produce the global car for world market in the future."
The concept cars are also part of Proton's 25th birthday celebrations in Malaysia. EMAS — the world for gold in the Malay language — stands for Eco Mobility Advance Solution, and is a collaboration between Proton, its subsidiary Lotus, and the Italian design house, Italdesign Giugiaro. The key to the EMAS mechanical package is a plug-in, petrol-electric drive system fired by a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine that can run on petrol, ethanol, methanol or natural gas. It produces 35 kiloWatts. There is also an electric motor, good for 45kW and 240 Newton-metres of torque.
The cars' performance is leisurely, with a 0-100km/h time of 14 seconds, but the top speed is 170km/h and they can travel for 50 kilometres on pure battery power. The EMAS cars are a three-door city car, a five-door, four-seater hatchback and a three-door, five-seat crossover. All are designed with maximum interior space, high-tech electronics in the cabin, low-drag bodies, and compact overall dimensions for easy parking.
Proton is not making any sort of production commitment for the hybrid heroes but shows the brand is planning for a sustainable future.