, short for Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional
(National Car Project), is a Malaysian
car manufacturer initiated in 1983
by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad
. The main plant is located in Shah Alam
Based on technology from Mitsubishi, production of the first model, SAGA, began in 1985. Proton acquired the British car manufacturer Lotus Cars from Bugatti in 1996.
Proton cars are exported to countries in the Far East and Europe. An entry into the U.S. market was considered, following Hyundai's successful launch in the mid 1980s. However, exports never materialized, as the cars required hundreds of changes to meet American safety standards.
Proton currently holds a market share of over 60% in Malaysia, but stands to lose ground in 2005 when AFTA mandates reducing import tariffs to a maximum of 5%.
See also: List of automobiles