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The first Malaysian car manufacturer, established 1983, with first Mitsubishi Lancer Fiore (1983–7)-based model, Saga, rolling off the lines in Selangor in 1985. Proton was a contraction of Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional (National Automotive Enterprise). Originally, Mitsubishi held a share in the venture, as did the Malaysian government. Through governmental protection, Proton held a majority of the domestic car market for decades, while its models were exported and sold on low price. British car maker Lotus was bought in 1996, giving Proton engineering expertise. An attempt to replace Mitsubishi with PeugeotCitroën, eyeing its diesel engines, was cut short when Proton’s CEO, Yahaya Ahmad, was killed in an air accident in 1997, and only one model resulted from the deal, the Citroën AX-based Tiara. The company continued to base its models on Mitsubishi cars, before coming out with its own designs, beginning with the 2001 Proton Waja. While the 2000s saw numerous in-house-developed models, Proton may return to developing future cars, including the Waja replacement, on Mitsubishi platforms.

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