Proton will soon begin manufacturing the GEP3 (Global Engine Petrol 3) 1.5 litre turbocharged engines used in the X50 as well as the export version of the X70 (to Pakistan), according to Sapura Industrial’s 2021 annual report. The expanded CKD exercise is part of Proton-Geely’s engine programme in Malaysia, which will help the national carmaker ramp up its export business in the process.
In the report, Sapura Industrial stated that it had already received letters of award to supply Proton with the torsional vibration dampener as well as exhaust and intake camshafts used in GEP3 engines. It added that the GEP3 engines will replace the current turbo CamPro CFE engine (codenamed Phoenix), although this is likely for future models.
Proton has previously said that its CamPro engines will live on in the meantime, so current models like the Iriz, Persona, Exora and Saga will continue to use them. With the newer GEP3 engines, Proton has the opportunity to enter markets that have higher regulatory requirements and emissions standards. The GEP3 three-cylinder engine was developed by Volvo and Geely based on the Volvo Engine Architecture, and is marketed under the Drive-E and G-Power names.
In Malaysia, the X50 uses the 1.5 T and 1.5 TGDi engines, providing 150 PS (148 hp) and 226 Nm of torque, or 177 PS (175 hp) and 255 Nm in the range-topping Flagship variant. The export X70 gets the more powerful TGDi version too, and both SUVs come standard with a seven-speed wet dual-clutch transmission developed by CEVT (China Euro Vehicle Technology).
As Proton explained previously, the 1.5 T will be used in its future models, with two of them being homegrown. “The move is part and parcel of the big picture in terms of the company’s powertrain strategy. The 1.5 T is basically a derivative of the 1.5 TGDi, and has been developed to accommodate our future programmes. This is the first introduction, and it will feature in future models that the company will produce in Malaysia,” said Hazrin Fazail Haroon, director of group engineering at Proton, in our previous report.
Manufacturing of the GEP3 engines will likely take place at Proton’s Tanjung Malim plant, which has received a significant amount of investment for upgrades. As detailed by Proton in October 2018, the first phase of the plant expansion includes new body in white (BIW), sub-assembly, trim and final, and logistic facilities, which were expected to completed in February 2019.
The carmaker also said at the time that further expansion could see the addition of an engine plant, which ties back to what is mentioned in Sapura International’s report, and bring the total investment up from RM1.2 billion to RM3 billion. With several new models in the pipeline, ensuring there is enough supply to meet demand is critical to Proton, and producing more components locally is definitely beneficial to meet that goal.