KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian car maker Proton Holdings is launching its first sport utility vehicle (SUV) by the end of the year, based on a model by China automaker Geely.
The Proton X70 will also be the first time that the Malaysian company is using an alphanumerical naming system for its model.
Previous Proton cars have names such as Saga or Wira.
Mr Abdul Rashid Musa, the sales and marketing vice-president of Proton Edar, the distribution arm of Proton, said the SUV would accept bookings from Saturday (Sept 8) with a small fee of RM1,000 (S$332), Bernama news agency reported.
He declined to reveal the retail price of the X70.
The vehicle is based on the Boyue produced by Geely, which bought 49.9 per cent of Proton in September last year.
Proton CEO Li Chunrong said a series of customer events spanning seven Malaysia cities would be held from Sept 19 to Nov 4 to promote the vehicle before its launch the year-end.
"Our plan is to reach nearly 6,000 people but that is only a small portion of the potential buyers we are targeting," he said, as quoted by Bernama.
Speaking about the alphanumeric system, Mr Rashid said the letter X is synonymous with crossover or SUV vehicles. The number 70 denotes the size or class of the SUV and would enable Proton to adopt a logical system to add bigger or smaller models in the future.
"This is the first time an alphanumerical naming system is used on a Proton model as our research shows it will make it easier to sell in Asean and other international markets, as there are no language barriers to overcome," he told reporters at the preview of the new SUV.
Speaking about the SUV market, Mr Rashid said the local SUV market still lag regional and international markets in terms of total industry volume (TIV).
He said SUVs contributed about 11 per cent of Malaysia's TIV compared with 15 per cent in Asean and 34 per cent globally.
The SUVs accounted for 40 per cent of TIV in both China and North America, Bernama quoted him as saying.