: Proton Holdings Bhd, a unit of DRB-HICOM Bhd, and Suzuki Motor Corp of Japan have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and licensing agreement to form a long-term strategic partnership with the possibility of developing a compact car.
Proton chairman, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said the details of the strategic partnership would be finalised by next year.
"We feel that we need to learn and work with this company simply because it has the technology for compact and small car," he told reporters after witnessing the signing ceremony on Monday.
Also present were Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohamed and Japan's Ambassador to Malaysia, Makio Miyagawa.
The former prime minister said he expected Proton to be able to contribute in terms of lowering Suzuki's costs by rebranding existing models before exploring the possibility of jointly developing new models.
Meanwhile, Proton's chief executive officer, Datuk Abdul Harith Abdullah, said the spirit of the collaboration encompassed four main areas; products, technology, people and market.
He said this collaboration would allow Proton access to the models, platforms, powertrain and car technology of Suzuki.
"Suzuki will then provide the specific technical assistance for the products and scope selected.
"The first phase of the project is scheduled to start production in the next 16 months and the production will take place at the Proton Tanjung Malim plant," he said.
Abdul Harith said Suzuki was strong for its technology and expertise in producing smaller engine segments, especially in the A and B segments categories that would complement Proton's long range product plan.
He said the collaboration was also in line with the National Automotive Policy as Proton continued to develop and produce products with features that met international standards and requirements.
"Suzuki, as the foreign strategic partner to Proton, will provide Proton the opportunity to grow internationally leveraging on Suzuki’s presence worldwide," he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said it was up to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to resolve the 1Malaysia Development Bhd's crisis.
"It does not matter, but in the meantime it is not good to talk," he said in response to Najib's promise to resolve the crisis by year-end.
On the fall in the ringgit, he said, it was up to those to say the decline was due to his criticisms against the government.