Proton to launch electric vehicles and hybrids ‘by 2012

Malaysia’s national car maker Proton aims to roll out its first fleet of electric vehicles in January for a pilot test before mass production targeted for 2012.

Nordiana Nordin of Proton says the car maker began testing prototypes two months ago in Britain and will conduct further tests before launching a fleet of 30 to 50 vehicles in mid-January for use by the government.

"We have a target of 2012 for mass production but it’s subjected to the fleet test program," she said. Proton is diversifying its business to boost its fortunes. It returned to the black in the financial year ended March but its domestic market share has dwindled sharply to under 30 per cent due to greater competition.

The hybrid car is being developed with Proton’s British technology partner Fraser-Nash Research Ltd and South Korea’s LG. It will have a 400 cc gasoline engine that powers a generator and recharges the electric lithium ion batteries when it is depleted.