Can Smart Harness Southeast Asia Market with Proton's Partnership?

Recently, the new energy vehicle brand, Smart, signed a memorandum of deepening cooperation with Proton Automotive of Malaysia at the 2023 China – ASEAN International Consumer Season Launch Ceremony and Smart Southeast Asia Market Release Conference. This memorandum signifies that the two parties will be strengthening their cooperative relationship comprehensively, primarily focused on exploring the feasibility of “building production capabilities overseas”. It also marks Smart’s official entry into the Southeast Asian market.

According to the memorandum, the two sides will also introduce a rigorous cooperation plan in terms of localized R&D. By fully leveraging the robust R&D strength of Smart, the parties will be able to introduce models that comply with local laws and usage habits within a short period. The first batch of right-hand drive version of Smart Elf #1 produced in Malaysia has been shipped, and pre-sales started locally on the same day, with plans to deliver to users in the fourth quarter of this year.

Tong Xiangbei, Global CEO of Smart, stated that the exploration of the Southeast Asian market is extremely important for Smart’s global development strategy, and the deepened cooperation with Proton Automotive will provide it with greater support. According to Li Chunrong, CEO of Proton Automotive, the deepened cooperation between the two parties will better adapt to the Southeast Asian market environment, and achieve richer results.

In 2022, Smart and Proton Automotive have already signed a memorandum of cooperation, establishing a comprehensive sales service network in Thailand and Malaysia. The signing of this memorandum to deepen cooperation is to further expand overseas production capacity. These actions also demonstrate Smart’s determination to adapt to and satisfy different market needs in its global market layout.

This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email