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Proton plans on prolific future

Proton is expected to go into a deal with Mitsubishi and aims for a sales target of 10,000 cars per year.

Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir says the Malaysian carmaker has turned the corner and is ready for growth. Proton has chosen China, India, Russia and the Middle East for satellite production bases.

It is also closing on an alliance with a big carmaker after failed talks with Volkswagen, Peugeot and General Motors.

Proton is expected to go with Mitsubishi in an ambitious deal that should increase its products and allow it to reach its sales target of 10,000 cars a year in Australia.

“The future looks better today,” says managing director Syed. “We are coming out with a series of models that are priced right and meet market requirements. The future is going to be really good but, at the same time, we are realistic in our approach.”

Syed was at the Melbourne motor show to research the Australian car industry and the opposition his brand faces.

He knows the company's 1.3- and 1.6-litre engines are small by local standards but hopes the price of fuel will make Proton more attractive.

“Australia is very peculiar because of the requirement for large engines,” he says.

“We need to be careful that the car fits into what the market needs.”

Proton also plans a people mover and larger cars, probably in a deal with Mitsubishi.

And it will probably rename the Gen.2 hatch as a second Persona to realign its local line-up and add the compact Saga sedan for $13,990.

The first of the newcomers, the Persona sedan, will be here next month.

“We have a program that will have a new car every year from now on. Last year we launched the Persona; this year is the Saga,” Syed says.

“Next year will be an MPV, then a Waja replacement, then a D-segment car. So, as we go along, at least for the next five years, there will be a new product every year.”