BEIJING – Hawtai Motor and Proton Holdings of Malaysia are expected to sign an agreement of a 50:50 joint venture in the coming months to design and develop A0- and A-class cars, according to top executives from both companies.
“We are working on the final details of the agreement,” Zhang Hongliang, Hawtai Motor board director, told CBU/CAR during Hawtai’s press conference at Auto China 2012 on April 23. “We have reached agreement on all major terms of the JV. If everything goes according to schedule, we expect to sign the agreement in May or June.”
Zhang, who is the son of Hawtai’s owner and founder Zhang Xiugen, said that the joint venture will be an R&D company, similar to BYD-Daimler New Technology Co. The cars will be jointly developed and made in both Hawtai’s production facility in Erdos, Inner Mongolia and Proton’s facility in Malaysia. The cars to be made can bear either the Hawtai or Proton marque.
Dato’ Sri Haji Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir, Proton’s group managing director, and two other Proton executives were present at Hawtai’s press conference.
“Our relationship with China’s Youngman is only licensing,” Tahir told CBU/CAR. “The planned joint venture with Hawtai is to work together to develop entry-level vehicles and help with each other’s capacity utilization. The cars to be produced in Erdos will be left-hand drive for the China market and those made in Malaysia will be right-hand drive.”
Hawtai unveiled at the auto show its 2.0L diesel Boliger priced at ¥154,700-¥204,700 ($25,000-$33,000). The company plans to sell 500,000 vehicles, 500,000 engines and 500,000 automatic transmissions by 2015, according to Zhang. Hawtai boasts the country’s most advanced engine and automatic transmission manufacturing facility at its based in Erdos.
Right before Auto China 2012, however, Hawtai lost a number of key members of its management team, including Hou Haijing, the executive vice president. Hou resigned on March 21 after being on the job for only eight months.