History of Proton
The Pre-Proton Years
It all began in 1979, when Tun Mahathir Mohamad, the then Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, mooted the idea of establishing an automotive assembling and manufacturing industry in our country.
It was his dream to accelerate Malaysia's industrialisation capabilities to match those of developed nations.
The dream came one step closer to reality when the Cabinet approved the National Car Project in 1982.
The dream was fulfilled when PROTON was officially incorporated on May 7, 1983. Our very first model, the Proton Saga, was commercially launched on July 9, 1985.
The name Saga was given by Ismail Jaafar, a retired military soldier, during a nationwide contest to name PROTON’s first car. It is derived from "Saga" (Adenanthera pavonina), a type of seed commonly found in Malaysia.
The first new market for the Proton Saga was Singapore, right across the Straits of Johor.
Laying the Foundation
In 1986, barely a year after our first car was launched, we celebrated the official rollout of the 10,000th Proton.
The following year, we launched the Proton Saga 1.5L sedan and aeroback models. By then, over 50,000 units of the Proton Saga had been produced and sold in Bangladesh, Brunei, New Zealand, Malta and Sri Lanka.
Soon after, Proton cars were distributed in the United Kingdom.
Development & Building Capacity
In 1988, PROTON debuted at the British International Motorshow, walking away successfully with three prestigious awards for quality, coachwork and ergonomics.
In 1996, we produced our 1 millionth car.
We progressed towards in-house engine operations in 1989. In our quest to upgrade our technological prowess, a Transmission Assembly Plant was set up in Shah Alam.
In 1996, we produced our one millionth car. This achievement was buoyed by several significant new model launches including the Proton Tiara, Proton Wira 2.0 Diesel and the two-door Proton Putra, in addition to our existing lineup of the Proton Wira, Proton Satria and Proton Perdana.
In the same year, we acquired a controlling stake in Group Lotus.
Even as the new millennium dawned, PROTON showed no signs of slowing down.
In 2000, we unveiled our prototype CamPro engine at the Lotus factory in Norwich, England.
The CamPro engine showcased PROTON's ability to produce engines with good power output and meet newer emission standards. The first model to incorporate the CamPro engine was the Gen-2 which was launched in 2004.
The variants of CamPro - CPS and IAFM - made their debut in 2008. The CPS was first introduced in the Proton Waja and facelifted Gen-2 while the IAFM was incorporated in the 2nd generation Proton Saga.
In 2008, we launched the latest iteration of our logo, in conjunction with the rollout of our three millionth car.
The 2nd generation Saga was the first model to use the black and chrome logo.
In 2009, PROTON Edar Sdn. Bhd. and Edaran Otomobil Nasional Berhad entered into a new Master Dealership Agreement. The aim was to rationalise the sales and services network of our vehicles to ensure a more efficient nationwide distribution.
PROTON further cemented its success in 2009 with the introduction of its first MPV – the Exora. It was widely accepted both domestically and in Thailand.
In light of the growing concerns about environmentally-friendly vehicles, PROTON attempted to develop its electric vehicles to manage carbon footprints and provide an alternative to volatile fuel prices.
In 2012, PROTON introduced the turbo variant of the CamPro engine; the 1.6-litre CamPro Charge Fuel Efficiency (CFE) engine performs like a 2-litre engine. It was first introduced in the Exora Bold and Exora Prime.
Privatisation & Progress
2012 marked a new phase for PROTON when it became a private entity after DRB-Hicom Berhad held 100% shares in PROTON. As the largest manufacturer of automobiles, DRB-HICOM was confident in transforming PROTON and LOTUS to become globally-recognised automotive players.
Determined to capture the international market, PROTON introduced the Prevé. It achieved a 5-Star safety rating by the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) in 2013, a historical first for PROTON.
In August 2013, PROTON launched another global car, the Suprima S: a youthful hatchback with a dynamic and sporty stance.
Privatisation & Progress
In May 2014, both the Prevé and Suprima S obtained a 5-Star safety rating from ASEAN NCAP, promoting PROTON as the national car company to champion the use of safer cars in Malaysia.
In September 2014, the Iriz received a 5-Star safety rating from ASEAN NCAP, making it the first car in Malaysia to receive a full safety rating before its launch.
During this time, PROTON forged collaborations with Honda in 2012 and Suzuki Motor Corporation Japan in 2015.
PROTON forged forward to become a respectable automotive player in the region. 2016 started with a major progressive development of the Suzuki collaboration with Suzuki outlets converted into PROTON Edar outlets.
In its bid to revive its market share and manage perception, PROTON unveiled a fresh logo and 10 initiatives to improve and enhance customer experience.
PROTON re-entered Chile by exporting the Prevé, Exora and Saga left-hand drive as part of a Free Trade Agreement.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, founder and Chairman of PROTON stepped down as Chairman in March 2016, paving the way for new leadership. Under the new management, PROTON launched 4 new cars in 2016 to propel itself back to capture a significant amount of market share.
On 24 May 2017, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co, Ltd (Geely) won the bid to acquire a 49.9% stake in PROTON. PROTON had sold 100% of its stake in Group LOTUS plc with 51% stake acquired by Geely and 49% by Etika Automobile Sdn Bhd.
On 23 June 2017, Geely and DRB-HICOM firmed up the partnership, with a 49.9% stake for Geely. The Boyue, Geely’s SUV which would be PROTON’s first SUV was displayed at the signing ceremony, marking a new era for PROTON with its new partner.
On 1 October 2017, Geely officially came on board with the new CEO, Dr Li Chunrong appointed to helm the management team of PROTON.
Today, PROTON is constantly seeking progress that drives PROTON as a brand that not only makes the best quality cars that are affordable to Malaysians, but also aspire to be a fast growing global player in the market.