The Proton badge was born 1985, but the manufacturers beginnings came about 4 years earlier.
In October of 1981 the president of Mitsubishi visited Malaysia to discuss plans for a national car company in that country.
By February of the following year, a team was established at HICOM to bring these plans to about. By December an agreement was signed with Mitsubishi. Soon after, Proton (Perusahaan Otomobil National Sdn. Bhd.) was established by using technical expertise, loans and supplies provided by Mitsubishi. This led to the production of Proton’s first car, the SAGA, in 1985 and then exporting their vehicles by 1986. Within two years of rolling out their first car, they had produced over 50,000 units. Although their early models were based on Mitsubishi technology, by 2004 they produced a car completely designed in-house, the Waja, or Impian in the UK.
Proton in the UK
Proton has a relatively small export base but is aggressively marketing their cars to new regions including the Middle East. They’ve been in the United Kingdom since 1989 and enjoy a reputation for being reliable and economic. Unfortunately they suffer from a poor public image with younger drivers and are thought of as unfashionable. Even with this, while many car companies have been struggling with decreased sales, Proton has enjoyed over a 50% increase in sales in the UK during 2006 and the firm expects this to continue.