Proton’s first mass-produced hybrid vehicle will be launched this year, according to a report by the research house based on an analyst briefing by Proton majority shareholder DRB-HICOM on March 2. According to these reports, the Proton X90 will be a mild-hybrid electric vehicle (hybrid).
The MHEV hybrid system is expected to be a 1.5-litre three-cylinder 48V engine + electric motor combination producing 190 PS at 5,500 rpm and 300 Nm of torque at 1,500-4,000 rpm, up from the 177 PS and 255 Nm of the non-hybrid version of the engine. .
We have speculated that this occurs for two reasons. First, Proton has showcased the engine at the Proton Center of Excellence showroom in Shah Alam in November 2021. Second, the Geely Okavango, the “brother” of the Proton X90, already uses this engine in the Philippine market.
How does the Proton X90’s 48V hybrid system work?
The system takes a regular 3-cylinder 1.5-liter turbocharged engine and adds a number of components to it. The hybrid system can deliver 13 hp and 45 Nm of boost, which is what boosts the non-hybrid’s 177 PS, 255 Nm figures to the hybrid’s 190 PS and 300 Nm.
Electric assist in this system is provided by a BSG or a belt-driven starter generator. It’s basically a very powerful alternator that can be used to provide some power to the engine.
Unlike other, more complex hybrid systems that sandwich an electric motor between the engine and transmission, the BSG delivers power through a belt connected to the crank. It runs on a 48V power system, provided by a 48V battery.
BSG will also be able to recharge this 48V battery by recovering braking energy and converting it into electricity. This is the only way to charge the battery as there is no outlet for external charging.
There is also a 48V to 12V DC to DC converter in the system, so the 48V system can provide power to the car’s usual 12V system, which runs everything else such as the air conditioner and lights.
Since it’s billed as a “mild” hybrid system, it’s also moderately functional. The Proton X90’s hybrid BSG motor will not be able to power the car in pure electric drive mode like other more advanced systems like Honda’s e:HEV system or Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system.
What it does do is allow the Proton X90 Hybrid to have the engine shut off for extended periods of time at speeds below 15km/h, such as when coasting to a stop. The 13 hp and 45 Nm of torque also come into play when you’re accelerating from a stop or even overtaking, providing extra torque when you need it most. The Proton X90 can also coast at high speeds with the engine switched off and the gearbox disconnected.
48V hybrid systems have been on the rise lately, for example this is actually more common in showrooms than you might think, but they are no longer marketed as hybrids as the industry has transitioned to using the term more powerful hybrid systems only.
If every 48V hybrid was sold as a hybrid in first world countries, there would be no more non-hybrid sales, especially in the last 2-3 years. For example, the M254 engines of the W206 C200 and C300 in the Malaysian market both use a 48V hybrid system with BSG.
Are you excited for Proton’s first 48V hybrid to hit showrooms? Or are you more adventurous and waiting for a plug-in hybrid like the Volvo T8 Hybrid? Let us know in the comments.
Gallery: 2023 Proton X90 spy shots
Gallery: Geely Haoyue/Okavango