Malaysia's Proton unveils its first compact car

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's national carmaker Proton has launched its first small car, hoping to bolster its fortunes amid fierce competition from foreign and domestic rivals.

Proton also hopes the Iriz, its first 1.3 liter engine car, will help snatch back market share from domestic compact car maker Perodua and reinvigorate plans to increase overseas sales.

Chief Executive Abdul Harith Abdullah said at the launch Thursday that Proton has invested 560 million ringgit ($172 million) to develop the Iriz over four years.

He said the Iriz will be a "game changer" for Proton, which is entering a popular and affordable car segment in the domestic market.

Once the king of the road in Malaysia, Proton's fortunes dwindled after its home market was opened to greater foreign competition.