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Brand New Proton Suprima S

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Kez Casey | Feb 22, 2017

Malaysia's Proton Holdings, manufacturer of Proton and Lotus automobiles, looks set to enter a strategic partnership with Volvo’s parent company, China’s Geely, according to a report by Reuters.

Full details of Geely’s bid are yet to be revealed, though it is believed part of the offer to Proton’s current owner DRB-Hicom will include access to Geely’s latest vehicle technologies to help boost the profile of struggling Proton.

In return, Geely would gain access to a broad selection of right-hand drive markets that it currently misses out on, including India, the UK, Malaysia, and Australia - representing a combined sales pool of almost 8 million vehicles per year.

Proton's current range in Australia is limited to the Suprima S hatch (top of page) and Exora people mover (below) with just 182 sales in 2016, down from 421 in 2015.

Contrary to the Reuters report The Star indicates that Groupe PSA, which manufactures Peugeot and Citroen vehicles, could be looking to make a bid for Proton, and offering the sports car arm Lotus to Geely.

Geely is believed to be looking at taking a 51 percent stake in Proton Holdings, and with Proton representing a higher potential sales volume than Lotus alone PSA could become engaged in a bidding war with Geely for control of Proton Holdings.

Reports suggest PSA’s long term aims for Proton include lifting current production capacity from 150,000 units annually to over 1 million units per year by investing in Proton’s production facilities, adding a new factory, and introducing SUVs to the brand’s product portfolio.

Suzuki and Renault are also believed to be preparing bids for a share in Proton, with open access to ASEAN markets the driving motivator behind the interest in the otherwise struggling Proton Holdings.

Proton was established in 1983 as Malaysia’s sole national automaker until the arrival of a second national automobile manufacturer, Perodua in 1993.

MORE: Proton | Lotus | Geely

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