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Hi guys ! I decided to experiment with something new for today. This is the first post that makes use of photos to illustrate the respective topic of discussion, instead of long, boring words. This and all future articles of similar nature shall be referred to as picture posts. Our first picture post is about Proton, the Malaysian automobile company’s foray into foreign markets. I thought it would be fitting to compose this post in celebration of the upcoming launch of the Proton P3-21A sedan in March 2012.
The purpose of this article is to raise Malaysian awareness on the presence and success of Proton in foreign markets.
It has been over 26 years since the launch of the first Malaysian car, the Proton Saga. Since then, various models have rolled off the factories and found homes in all corners of the globe. There is a saying that goes, ” a picture speaks a thousand words ” ; I picked only the very best photos for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy !
DISCLAIMER : I take absolutely no credit for these photos. All photos are for illustrative purposes only. All copyrights belong to their respective owners.
Proton in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is one of Proton’s biggest markets. Proton became the fastest growing new car company in the UK when it entered the market in the 1980s with the Proton Saga. Proton sold tens of thousands of cars in the UK during the 80s and 90s. However, with the turn of the century, Proton struggled to compete with other rivals, such as Hyundai, Kia and SEAT. In 2010, Proton sold only 767 cars in the market, a far cry from the thousands of decades past.
Probably the most famous encounter of a Proton on British soil was in an episode of Mr. Bean. A Proton Iswara was used in a ” chase ” scene, where a golf ball had comically lodged itself into the exhaust pipe of the Iswara. The owner, unknowingly, started the car, only to blow the engine in the process. You can watch the episode here. Besides that, the Humberside Police of the United Kingdom use Protons as patrol cars. Some of them are pictured below. Proton cars have also been used in the British Touring Car Championship ( BTCC ). Last but not least, two Satria Neo S2000 rally cars were used in a special Top Gear UK vs. Top Gear Australia challenge. The future of Proton remains uncertain in the United Kingdom. Proton will need a major overhaul soon if sales are to improve here.
Proton in Singapore
Singapore is a logical target for Proton, being just 200 miles or so from Kuala Lumpur. Despite that, Proton is not very successful in the Singaporean market due to competition from other makes and burdening taxes. Furthermore, many Singaporeans are not confident enough to invest in a Malaysian made car. However, Proton experienced an improvement in sales with the recent launch of the Proton Exora MPV and Proton Saga.
Proton in Australia
Australia is another crucial market for Proton. Popular models include the Saga, which is known as the S16 there, and the Satria Neo. The latter gained invaluable exposure on the popular television show, Top Gear Australia, where it was used in the Star in a Bog Standard Car challenge. The Proton Arena ( Jumbuck ) is also one of Australia’s most popular utes, thanks to affordable pricing. It remains the last of the old Mitsubishi- Protons in the market. Proton is not perceived as a bad choice in Australia, nor a particularly good one, but rather somewhere in between. As a matter of fact, Proton received many awards in Australia. The only major criticism is that Proton cars lack proper safety features when compared to rival makes.
Proton in Thailand
Proton entered the Thai market a few years ago. Sales are good so far and is likely to improve over the next few years. The Proton Savvy is the most popular Malaysian car in Thailand, and has won several awards since its introduction.
Proton in Indonesia
Similar to Thailand, Indonesia has become a major market for Proton in recent years. The Exora is actively marketed there as an ideal family MPV and sales have been promising. There are also many Indonesian Proton Wira and Waja taxis which roam the streets of Jakarta.
Proton in South Africa
Proton in China
Proton does business in China with help from the local company, Youngman Automobile Group Ltd.. The Proton Gen- 2 and Persona are rebadged as the Youngman EuropeStar and enjoy limited success in China. Recently, Proton signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with another Chinese company, Hawtai Motor Group Ltd. with plans of selling the Proton Exora and P3-21A in China, under the Hawtai badge in the near future.
Proton in Taiwan
Proton in Mauritius
Proton in Egypt
Egypt is a big export market for Proton. In 2010, Proton sold 989 Sagas and 683 Gen-2s in Egypt. Sales in this market have steadily increased since the introduction of the brand. Many Egyptians seem to think highly of Proton cars, as you may deduce from the photos below.
Proton in Turkey
Proton in Cyprus
Proton in Romania
Proton in Iran
Iran is a major market for Proton. Malaysia, Iran and Turkey engaged in talks to build an ” Islamic car ” a couple of years ago. The car would have special features such as a compass which points to Mecca and a dedicated compartment for the storage of the holy al- Quran. However, Malaysia ( Proton ) pulled out and the project was scrapped. There are also a few thousand Proton Waja taxis in Iran today. They are part of a deal between Proton and the government of Iran.
Proton in the United Arab Emirates
Proton in Qatar
Proton in Bahrain
Proton in Kuwait
Proton in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a minor market for Proton. Proton collaborated with the Saudi Arabian KACST to produce the Aseelah, basically a rebadged Proton Persona with Satria Neo headlamps. The car is still in the conceptual stage, and is not yet available for purchase. Regular Proton cars are also sold here too, of course.
Proton in Oman
Oman is a developing market for Proton.
Proton in Syria
Proton in Iraq
Proton in Sri Lanka
Proton in Bangladesh
Proton in Pakistan
Pakistan is a small market for Proton.
Proton in Nepal
Proton in the Philippines
Proton sold many Left- Hand- Drive (LHD) Proton Wiras in the Philippines in the 1990s. However, Proton eventually withdrew from the market due to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. There are also many Proton Wira taxis on Filipino streets today.
Proton in Brunei
Proton in Vietnam
Proton in South Korea
Proton does not sell cars in South Korea. The Proton Savvy below is probably the only Proton in all of South Korea. It is the result of a joint venture between Proton and LG of South Korea to create electric vehicles (EV).
Proton in Japan
Proton has a long history with Japan. The first few Proton cars were essentially rebadged Mitsubishi cars. These included the Proton Saga, Wira, Perdana, Satria and Juara among others. Today, Proton manufactures home grown cars, with technical help from Lotus. CUSCO ( Carrosser ), the Japanese automotive performance parts company recently collaborated with Proton to build FIA Group N S2000 class rally cars for sale in Japan and other markets in the region. CUSCO chose the Satria Neo, apparently impressed with the racing heritage of the car, having been used in the WRC and other major sporting events. CUSCO imported many Satria Neos into Japan over the past couple of years, modified them up to FIA standards and equipped its own rally racing team, the CUSCO Junior Racing Team.
However, Proton and CUSCO don’t sell regular Proton cars in Japan, only the modified Satria Neo rally cars. When a CUSCO representative was questioned why Proton was chosen as their partner, he simply replied, ” We wish to promote the goodness of the Proton to the Japanese people. ”. And he wasn’t kidding. Most Japanese people are surprisingly enthusiastic about the Satria Neo too.
Proton is also in talks with Mitsubishi again. They plan to share technology between one another, by rebadging each others’ vehicles among others. This is the case with the Proton Inspira, a rebadged Mitsubishi Lancer sold exclusively in Malaysia. Furthermore, Mitsubishi proposed the rebadging of the Proton Exora and Proton Persona as Mitsubishi cars, to be sold in other markets around the world.
Proton in Switzerland
Proton does not sell cars in Switzerland. However, Proton previewed the EMAS concept car at the 2010 Geneva Auto Show, which was held in Switzerland. The EMAS will be cruising our roads within the next 3 to 5 years.
Proton in New Zealand
Proton in Fiji
Proton in Europe/ European Union
After witnessing tremendous success in the United Kingdom, Proton sought to expand into continental Europe in the early 1990s. Thanks to the streamlined and efficient policies of the European Union, Proton cars managed to spread all over Europe from 1995 to 2001. Proton only sold the Wira hatchback, Wira sedan, Putra coupe and Satria compact in Europe, and they were renamed as the Proton 300 Series and 400 Series. However, luck did not favour Proton, and they withdrew from continental Europe by the 21st century. Germany was the only country where Proton sales were good, and many old Wiras and Satrias can still be seen on German roads today.
Proton in France
Proton in Germany
Proton in Finland
Proton in Poland
Proton in the Czech Republic
Proton in Lithuania
Proton in Belarus
Proton in Ukraine
Proton in Russia
Proton in Slovakia
Proton in Slovenia
Proton in Croatia
Proton in Serbia
Proton in Bosnia & Herzegovina
Proton in South America & The Caribbean
Proton cars were sold in several countries in South America and the Caribbean, and like Europe, they suffered from poor sales. There are still old Protons in use here though, many of them Proton Wiras.
Proton in Chile
Proton in Argentina
Proton in the Dominican Republic
Proton in the United States of America
Proton in North Korea
Proton does not officially sell cars in North Korea. I cannot confirm the legitimacy of these photos. I can however confirm that Malaysia and North Korea are enhancing information cooperation between one another. Is this a good or bad thing ? You decide.
While I think it’s great that Proton has a large international presence, I also feel that much more must be done to justify the true success of the Proton brand. Exporting cars to other countries is all but one step of many, in the right direction. Proton still has a long way to go, and time is running out. It is my sincere hope that Proton ( and Perodua ) will break out of their old, flawed ways of thinking, and opt for a more mission- orientated mentality. In 2010 and 2011, Proton proved itself, by making smart and progressive moves; introducing the new Saga FLX, a lifetime warranty on all Proton car windows, better safety features and more. 2012 will be the defining year for Proton. The whole of Malaysia is depending on the success of Proton. The P3-21A sedan must succeed. Failure is no longer an option. That’s all for today, I’m afraid. I sincerely hope you enjoyed viewing this gallery. Trust me, collecting photos on the internet may sound easy, but it took me many, many days on end to collect and post them in a presentable manner. I would also like to make it clear once more that I take absolutely no credit for these photos. All credit goes to the original owners. These photos are solely meant for illustrative purposes only. Oh and one more thing, these are just a handful of pictures which depict Proton cars in foreign land. There are many, many more countries than those few listed above ! Please keep this in mind. Thanks for reading !
Want to contribute more photos of overseas Proton cars to this article ? Feel free to e-mail any and all of your best photos to firstname.lastname@example.org ! If you include a link to your blog or website together with your photos, I will make sure to include the URL link in the credits below as well. :)
- Various sources for the photos
- Various sources for the data
- Flickr – Proton car in foreign countries
- crthompson – For 9 Brunei photos
- protonownersclub.co.uk – For Perdana photos