Proton is a Malaysian car manufacturing company. Originally founded by the then Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Proton Cars was incorporated in 1983. During this time, the company's goal was to build a national car. It's first car, the Proton Saga, was officially launched two years later and became Malaysia's first domestically produced car, with production taking place at Proton's original factory plant in Shah Alam, near Kuala Lumpar.
In the 1990s, new models were introduced, including the Wira and the Perdana. The Wira, which was based on the Mitsubishi Lancer, sold more than 220,000 units between 1996 and 1998. The Perdana was based on the Mitsubishi Galant and intended for the higher end of the market.
In October 1996, Proton took a significant step forward by acquiring the Lotus Group. This allowed Proton to gain a new source of engineering expertise and led to them being able to design their new car models internally. The first model to be launched after the acquisition was the Impian in 2001. Within a year of this, Proton's market share in Malaysia was over 60%.
In 2005, the company constructed a state-of-the-art plant in Tanjung Malim, north of Kuala Lumpar. The area was named Proton City and has produced three new models, the GEN-2, Savvy and Satria Neo.
Proton sales peaked at 417,000 cars in 2005, but increased competition from Perodua, their main Malaysian rival, coupled with the implementation of an ASEAN Free Trade Agreement that practically eliminated the price advantages that Proton had in Malaysia, led to a decline in new car sales.
Despite this, the engineering advances that Proton has made since its acquisition of Lotus and its excellent reputation for reliability means that a nearly new Proton can still be a shrewd purchase.