Malaysian manufacturer Proton has just put the finishing touches to its three millionth vehicle, having achieved the feat in 23 years. Proton fired up its first production line a little over two decades ago, and began by assembling completely knocked down kits (CKD).
The ensuing years has seen Proton progress to a fully-fledged manufacturer, with its own research and development centre, engine manufacturing facilities and three manufacturing plants.
Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was the guest of honour at a ceremony held on August 7 to celebrate the manufacturing milestone - a celebration that formed part of Proton's Technology week.
Also on hand to celebrate the achievement were the high commissioners and ambassadors of all the countries to which Proton exports cars, including Australia's High Commissioner to Malaysia, Ms Penny Williams.
Aside from the 3 millionth car ceremony, Proton's Technology Week also showcased the processes involved in the design and engineering of a car with a view to encouraging an interest in automotive engineering for aspiring engineers, stylists and designers.
"Proton has progressed from merely assembling completely knocked down (CKD) cars to localising and developing its own products, and then into engine manufacturing and setting up a full-fledged research and development centre enabling us to design and manufacture our own product," said Dato' Mohammed.
The three millionth Proton was the somewhat aptly named 'Saga', a model that was launched into the Malaysian market in January this year, and has proven to be an enormous success. Proton plans to introduce the Saga to its export markets over the next six months.
Proton has invested more than $AUD 1.2 billion in R&D activities and is one of the few international standard automotive facilities with its own 'virtual reality' lab. Future plans for Proton include the launch of its first Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) in early 2009.