Proton X70 – more than just moving the steering wheel –

While we’re eagerly awaiting the launch of Proton’s second SUV, widely tipped to be called the X50, Zhejiang Geely Holdings (ZGH) group has released a fascinating look at the development process behind the highly-successful X70. That car may have been a rebadged Geely Boyue, but its conversion to a Malaysian product wasn’t merely a case of moving the steering wheel to the right side.

In fact, according to group, Proton also had to reposition and realign the dashboard, steering console, pedals, door controls, brakes, gearbox, headlights, wipers, air-conditioning ducts, glovebox, and several cables and wires. All-in-all, a total of 761 parts had to be changed to turn the Boyue into the X70 – and that’s not counting the components that were completely reengineered.

And that’s just the start. The localisation process also involved the tropicalisation of the car to suit Malaysia’s hot, humid and rainy climate. The X70 not only had to be able to sit in daily standstill traffic in sweltering Kuala Lumpur heat, but also drive up 6,000 feet to Genting Highlands (where the air is thinner) and survive East Malaysian terrain, said the group.

As such, the car’s rubber components and cooling parts had to be replaced, while the engine management system had to be recalibrated to account for the differing terrain and altitude. Even after all the changes, the X70 had to undergo a rigorous testing process that involved repeating around 25% of the 548 tests originally conducted for the Boyue.

These included performance, ride and handling, braking, emissions, safety, weight, thermal, climate control, electromagnetic compatibility, environmental, aerodynamics, ergonomics, durability, and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) tests.

Proton also had to homologate the X70, ensuring that the car met ASEAN NCAP safety standards (China has its own C-NCAP system) and maximising the engine’s performance and effectiveness when running on our RON 95 or 97 petrol (China primarily uses lower-octane RON 92 fuel).

Then, of course, came local assembly. Proton sought to source components from local suppliers, and some of them did not initially have the expertise to produce those components. The company solved the problem by initiating a series of joint ventures and technical assistance agreements with Geely suppliers from China.

Through those efforts, Proton managed to secure 45% of local content for the X70 by the time production of the CKD model began at the end of 2019, and the company aims to increase that figure by eight percent by the end of this year.

In total, 95 Proton engineers were involved in the entire process of turning the Boyue into the X70, from research and development to testing. These engineers, along with technicians from manufacturing and quality divisions, made up the circa-200 people the company sent to Geely within a span of six months. The group said that the individuals learnt invaluable knowledge and experience from their Geely counterparts, which it claims will enhance Proton’s engineering capabilities.

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