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Proton hybrid concepts herald all-new city family

Lotus flower: Proton's Emas concept goes hybrid, courtesy of partner Lotus Engineering.

Proton builds its brand with Lotus-engineered, Giugiaro-designed compact car family

8 Mar 2010

PROTON’S presence in world automotive terms took a significant step forward at the Geneva motor show last week with the unveiling of a new family of small urban vehicles with a Lotus-engineered hybrid powertrain.

Designed by Italian design house Italdesign Giugiaro, the trio of ‘Emas’ concept cars – an acronym for ‘Eco Mobility Advance Solution’ and also said to be the Malay word for ‘gold’ – was shown as a three-door and five-door hatchback and a crossover.

While a production timetable is still to be confirmed, Proton executives made it clear at the Swiss show that the program was meant to demonstrate the Malaysian car-maker’s competence on the global automotive stage, matching standards in not only design terms but in technology, too.

Hence the emergence, in all three Emas derivatives, of the hybrid powertrain developed by Proton subsidiary Lotus Engineering.

In the same genre as other forthcoming plug-in hybrids, the Lotus/Proton system combines an electric motor with a small range-extending combustion engine that replenishes the battery and provides additional power whenever needed.

In this case, the electric motor is a rear-mounted 280-420 VDC unit that provides 75kW peak and 45kW continuous power, driving the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission with an integrated differential (final drive ratio: 4.214:1). Maximum torque is 240Nm.

Energy is stored in a floor-mounted 11.47kWh lithium-polymer battery pack with a circa-100kW discharge capability. According to Proton, full recharging can take place in three hours using a standard domestic 240-volt outlet.

43 center imageThe lightweight (56kg) front-transverse-mounted internal combustion engine is a 1.2-litre six-valve three-cylinder that can run on petrol, ethanol or methanol and provides a maximum 38kW at 3500rpm and 107Nm at 2500rpm via an integrated electrical generator.

The generator converts the mechanical energy to electrical energy for battery recharging and range extension (providing electrical power for the drive motors) as required.

Proton claims the Emas three-door hatch can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 14 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 170km/h. The driving range in full-electric mode is 50km.

Dimensions range from 3000mm to 3555mm in length for the aerodynamic Geneva concepts, with overall height listed at 1576mm and width 1699mm. These dimensions, and the wheelbase of 2035-2590mm, place the cars around the same size as the current Savvy.

The suspension is a conventional front strut/rear torsion beam configuration, while the show cars rest on 18-inch wheels with 215/45-section tyres.

The five-door hatchback (known simply as the Emas) seats four occupants, the three-door Emas Country crossover seats five (swapping two individual rear seats for a sliding rear bench) and the three-door hatch, dubbed Emas3, has emerged as a 3+1.

With the latter, the rear passenger is seated behind the driver and has less legroom than other models, although Proton claims there is still enough space for an adult.

With the floorpan raised to accommodate the batteries, Giugiaro has maximised the available space and ease of entry/exit with a higher and more upright seating position than in conventional compact cars.

Proton claims the result is interior roominess on a par with a medium-sized sedan, despite exterior dimensions of a light-sized hatch.

The five-door version offers a 320-litre luggage compartment which, according to the car-maker, can accommodate two medium-sized suitcases with ease. The Country has 390 litres of cargo space with the rear bench in place, extending to 780 litres when folded.

The dashboard is dominated by two centre-mounted concave displays, one showing the speedometer and other key functions (including hybrid system energy flow) and the other providing secondary information for the stereo, phone, internet and so on.

“The unveiling of the concept cars reflects the long-term strategy we have in matching global automotive standards as we expand and reinforce our presence worldwide,” said Proton managing director Dato’ Syed Zainal.

“We strive to listen to our customers to ensure the development of a global car that meets customers’ requirements and expectations. The aim is to produce the global car for world market in the future.

“Proton is certainly very thankful and humbled that this is happening as we celebrate our 25 years of existence in the industry. We certainly will make full use of this opportunity to reach out and build our brand further into the global world.” Proton Holdings chairman Dato' Mohomed Nadzmi acknowledged the role of Italdesign Giugiaro (IDG) and Lotus Engineering in taking the Malaysian brand forward.

“While we continue to gain progressive technology from our subsidiary Lotus, our design collaboration with IDG further strengthened our position within the global automotive industry,” he said.

“Proton wanted to work with the best and IDG topped other styling and design houses with their credibility and flair. We undertook a careful process of benchmarking and a thorough point-by-point analysis of strengths and weaknesses in our decision.” Italdesign chairman Giorgetto Giugiaro said: “We have created a family of models in different configurations but all offering the passenger room of a medium category car while maintaining the exterior dimensions of a compact mini.

“The architecture has been designed in such a way as to allow us to outfit an infinite number of variants without compromising the car's great comfort and extensive interior space.”

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1st of January 1970

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