Subang Jaya, 7 July 2020 – 9 July 1985 was just another day for many people but for Malaysia, it marked the date of entry to a select group of nations with the capability to build their own cars. That was the day the Proton Saga started rolling off production lines, a little over two years after the establishment of Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional (PROTON).
The history of PROTON the brand and the Proton Saga are inseparable. Starting from a clean sheet of paper PROTON was the brainchild of Malaysia’s fourth premier, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had conceived the idea of a national car maker in 1979 to help push forward the industrialisation of the nation. Cabinet approval followed in 1982 and on 7 May 1983, Malaysia’s first automotive company was founded.
The first Proton Saga was based on a Mitsubishi model after the Japanese car manufacturer agreed to a joint-venture with HICOM to produce Malaysia’s first car. It quickly established itself as a favourite amongst Malaysian car buyers and on 16 March 1989 was launched in the United Kingdom, where it sold in such numbers that its 12-month sales target was achieved in just six months.
Over the years, PROTON has gone from strength to strength, achieved success in motorsports at an international level and launched many other models, but the Saga has remained a constant in its model range. Reliable, affordable and blessed with a ride and handling balance that showcases the skill of the company’s engineers, it received a major upgrade this past August that was well received by customers.
Today, the Saga retains its position as the mainstay of PROTON’s range of offerings. Since the launch of the upgraded 2019 model, booking volumes have nearly matched those of the original, which was sold during a time when consumers had fewer options to choose from. In fact, for the month of May 2020, it was the best-selling car in Malaysia while in June, it reached its highest monthly sales volume in 70 months.
Cumulatively over 1.8 million units have been sold in the last 35 years, meaning the Saga is the most popular model from a Malaysian automotive brand. With more gradual improvements in the pipeline, a commitment to excellence and the company’s dedication to keeping the Saga ahead of its rivals, the popular nameplate will carry on for at least another 35 years.
So what’s next? Check PROTON’s official Facebook page on 9 July 2020 at 10.35am to find out.