HISTORY OF PROTON CARS
It Began with One Man’s Vision
The story of how Proton came to be starts back in 1979. The former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathi Mohamed, had a vision for Malaysia to have their own national vehicle. It was his passion and dream to accelerate Malaysia’s industrialization abilities and be able to compete with more developed countries.
In 1983, his vision came to be a reality when Proton Cars was formed, and it would one day become one of Malaysia’s favored automotive brands.
Shortly after this, in 1985, Proton marked a momentous occasion when they released their first national car. Thus, was born the Proton Saga.
The People’s Car
The Proton Saga became a fast favorite with the people of Malaysia and secured them a 64% domestic market share for the Saga’s vehicle segment in 1986. In 1987, building on their previous success, Proton launched the Proton Saga Aeroback hatchback model.
Proton was growing as there was more and more demand for their vehicles, and were now selling vehicles in Bangladesh, Brunei, New Zealand, Malta and Sri Lanka.
Following this, Proton made the decision to enter the European market and sell their vehicles in the United Kingdom. In 1988, Proton debuted the Saga at the British International Motor Show where they won three prestigious awards for quality, coachwork and ergonomics (two golds and one silver). These models set the record for the “Fastest selling make of new car ever to enter the United Kingdom”.
Growth and Procurement of Lotus
Moving into the 1990’s, Proton showed no signs of slowing down. They were ever-endeavoring to upgrade their technological prowess and set up a Transmission Assembly plant in Shah Alam, Malaysia.
In 1996, Proton acquired an 80-percent stake in the Lotus group, a British sports car manufacturer. With the benefit of being able to learn and share information with Lotus, Proton improved their expertise in tuning and developing suspension systems for their vehicles based on Lotus’ learnings. It was in 1998 that Proton introduced the Proton Satria GTi, which quickly became one of Proton’s most sought-after vehicles. The Proton Satria GTi was regarded as the best Malaysian car to ever be produced.
Driving into the 21st Century
In 2003 Proton completed the building of the Tanjung Malim Manufacturing Plant, spanning 1,280 acres, and began production of a new era of Protons. During this time, Proton also unveiled their new prototype CamPro engine at the Lotus Factory in Norwich, England.
2004 signified the official launch of the CamPro engine designed by Proton when it was introduced in the Proton Gen-2 models.
Into 2009, Proton further gained more success and interest in their vehicles with the launch of the Proton Exora. This was their first branch out into the Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MVP) segment. As Malaysia’s first seven-seater vehicle, the Exora became a favorite amongst buyers thanks to its great value and practicality.
As the concerns about vehicles and businesses carbon footprints became more prominent, Proton attempted to develop its own range of electric vehicles to become more environmentally friendly. In 2012, Proton introduced a turbocharged version of their CamPro engine to help reduce their environmental impact and provide customers with a more fuel-efficient engine.
5-Stars All Around
Proton made history in 2013 by introducing their new C-Segment sedan, the Proton Preve. The Preve became the first Proton vehicle to receive a 5-star safety rating by the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP).
By 2014, Proton were slowly becoming known as the vehicle manufacturer championing the change to safer vehicles in Malaysia after receiving two more 5-star ASEAN NCAP safety ratings for the Proton Suprima S and the Proton Iriz.
This newfound success with their vehicles securing 5-star safety ratings lead to Proton forging relationships and collaborations with Honda and Suzuki Motor Corporation Japan. This helped them launch 4 new vehicles in 2016 and regain a significant amount of their market share.
The Beginning of a New Era with GeelyWith Proton looking for an international automobile partner to help further the vision of Tun Dr. Mahathi Mohamed and take Proton to new heights, in 2017, Geely (Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co, Ltd) won the bid to acquire a 49.9% stake in Proton. This partnership brought in a new era for Proton and their vehicles with Proton’s first SUV being launched locally in Malaysia in 2018.
Proton made the decision to unveil a new striking logo in 2019, which we can see today on our Proton Vehicles. This logo embodies the pride and positive qualities that have come to be associated with Proton over the years.
With 37 years of automotive experience, 22 car models, and 4.7 million customers worldwide, Proton are growing from strength to strength.
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