The Proton X70 has been caught testing in Karachi, Pakistan. According to CarSpiritPK.com, Proton’s Pakistani partner Al-Haj Automotive is in the process of introducing a range of Proton vehicles, and is already testing the Saga, which will be the first Proton model to be introduced there.
Now it looks like the X70 is in the distributor’s plans too, as camouflaged units have been spotted on the road. The report says that Al-Haj has imported multiple units of the X70 from Malaysia for trials ahead of an anticipated 2021 launch. The front grille confirms that it’s the X70 and not the Geely Boyue that the Proton is based on.
The same website says that the Pakistan market will receive the Proton X70 with a 1.5 litre turbo engine used by other Geely and Volvo models, and not the 181 hp/300 Nm 1.8 litre turbo engine in our CKD X70. The smaller 174 hp/255 Nm engine is a better fit there because of Pakistan’s tax structure. Like our X70, the 1.5L engine will be paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which replaces the previous conventional six-speed auto.
In March 2019, Proton announced that it will set up a local assembly plant in Pakistan, which will be owned and operated by Al-Haj. The factory will be built at a greenfield site in Karachi with an initial investment of US$30 million (RM126 million), and is expected to commence operations before the end of this year. As part of the agreement, Al-Haj will be the sole distributor for Proton vehicles in Pakistan.
In April 2019, Proton exchanged documents with Al-Haj for a licensing and technical assistance agreement related to the building of the Karachi factory. The ceremony was witnessed by prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad – who was then in Beijing for the Belt and Road forum – and Geely chairman Li Shufu. Mahathir had also gifted a unit of the X70 to Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan.
“Expanding the sales of Proton vehicles outside of Malaysia is vital for us to achieve our long-term goals and we therefore hope for the Pakistan automotive market to be one of our growth engines for the future,” Proton chairman Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar said in the March 2019 announcement.