In the early 1980s, Tun Mahathir had the vision of the National Car Project that would help industrialise the nation and at the same time produce affordable cars for the domestic market.
A joint venture between Proton and Mitsubishi Motors resulted in the first Proton Saga to roll off the production line to mark the beginning of the Malaysian Automotive industry.
Be as it may, the vision of a national car was finally achieved though it resulted in increased protectionism with the establishment of the local automotive industry via the AP (Approved Permit) system that increased the cost of imported cars.
Despite operating in a protected environment, Proton still faced financial difficulty in its nurturing years and bad quality control has dogged the reputation of its cars for years.
Nevertheless, Proton has created over 12,000 jobs, contributed RM24 billion in taxes and sparked the start of the automotive industry that saw the creation of Malaysia’s second carmaker Perodua.