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by Tim Beissmann

Malaysian car manufacturer Proton plans to begin mass production of a hybrid electric vehicle by 2012.

Around 30 to 50 cars will undergo a second round of prototype testing in January 2011, following successful trials in Britain in September.

The vehicle – the Proton Exora Range Extended Electric Vehicle – is being developed in collaboration with Lotus, LG, and British partner Fraser-Nash Research.

The hybrid-electric Exora has a 400cc petrol engine that powers a generator, which then recharges the batteries. Due to the its small capacity, the car can never be driven solely by the engine.

Able to be recharged from a standard home power socket, Proton says the electric Exora has a range of 1000km with a full tank and a full charge, and is capable of reaching a top speed of 140km/h.

Standing in the way of the green Proton’s success is the lack of recharging infrastructure in Malaysia and the batteries’ high cost and slow recharge rates, although the Malaysian Government is planning to build 10 charging stations around Putrajaya to supplement the prototype testing.

Proton is desperate to turn around its recent sales slide in its domestic market, where its share has slipped from more than 67 percent around five years ago to below 30 percent today.




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