Chinese car maker Geely pulled out of the running last month, but the only known remaining interested party, the PSA Group, says a decision is due by the end of June
18 April 2017

The sale of Proton to a successful bidder will be confirmed imminently, according to PSA Group boss Carlos Tavares.

PSA Group has long been in the running to purchase the ailing Malaysian car maker alongside emerging Chinese brand Geely. However the latter announced it was pulling out of the bidding process for Proton last month, accusing executives of the brand of indecisiveness in their plans.

Tavares confirmed that PSA, which owns Peugeot, Citroen and DS, remains in discussions with Proton to purchase it, but added that it was not the only interested party remaining. 

He said that the Malaysian authorities say a decision will be made in the second quarter of 2017, meaning an announcement by the end of June at the latest.

If the French car maker, which confirmed its purchase of Opel/Vauxhall earlier this month, bought the firm, it could also inherit Lotus, adding a sports car line-up to its portfolio.

Before Geely backed out, it had been in a bidding war with PSA for financially-embattled Proton, which is reported to have sold just 75,000 cars last year.

“They keep changing, today it’s this, tomorrow it’s that,” said Geely chairman Li Shufu. “They haven’t decided what they want.”

Proton is required to attract a foreign partner due to loan conditions from a financial rescue package settled in 2016.  

Proton, which is controlled by Malaysian entrepreneur Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary and his company DRB-Hicom, was established in 1983 by former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad as part of the country’s extensive industrialisation program. 

Geely, which is the parent company of Volvo, the recently announced Lynk&Co brand and the London Taxi Company (LTC), had been eying up Proton as part of a global expansion programme that insiders suggest also included the purchase of Proton-owned Lotus.

Speaking to Autocar at the recent Geneva motor show, a high-level Geely executive who asked not to be identified suggested preliminary plans had been drawn up to use Proton’s underutilised Tanjung Malim manufacturing facilities to produce right-hand-drive versions of the recently unveiled Lyn&Co 01 SUV for export to various markets including the UK, Australia and South Africa.

Further plans included establishing Proton as an entry-level brand within the growing Geely portfolio. “Geely has established itself as a reputable middle-class brand in China thanks to its links with Volvo. The purchase of Proton would give it a new entry-level point, which is considered crucial to further growth,” the executive said.

By using Proton as an entry-level brand, Geely would also have had key exposure to the potentially lucrative south-east Asian car market in markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. 

More crucial to British jobs, according to Autocar’s source, was Geely’s intention to bundle Lotus with its earlier planned purchase of Proton.

“My chairman is desperate to buy a sports car maker. We’ve spoken to Aston Martin and others, but Lotus has always been the target,” he said.

Among the attraction in Lotus is the Norfolk-based manufacturer's lightweight platform technology and engineering consultancy business.

With Geely now out of the running, PSA is expected to finalise its bid for Proton. Officials from the French car maker, which confirmed its purchase of Opel/Vauxhall earlier this month, say they expect a final decision on plans for Proton by the start of summer.

Geely and PSA are the latest in a long line of bidders for Proton, which is also said to have considered recent proposals from Skoda, Renault and Suzuki. Earlier talks had also linked the Malaysian car maker with Volkswagen, Honda and Toyota.

Our Verdict

Volvo XC90
The new Volvo XC90 costs from £45,750

It has big boots to fill and talented rivals to face. Is it up to the task?

Join the debate

Comments
11

23 March 2017
It's a bloody disgrace and a completely hopeless car company. They should just shut it down and do all Malaysians a favor. And I don't know why PSA wants to buy this company. It's a huge huge huge mistake. Mark my words.

23 March 2017
Sitikchai wrote:

It's a bloody disgrace and a completely hopeless car company. They should just shut it down and do all Malaysians a favor. And I don't know why PSA wants to buy this company. It's a huge huge huge mistake. Mark my words.

Nobody wants Lotus either.

24 March 2017
We can probably stop saying this now which is beginning to sound a bit like 'so-called Islamic State'. We get it, we get it.

23 March 2017
will/would psa be taking over lotus, as geely planned to?

24 March 2017
I thought that PSA were crazy wanting to buy Vauxhall/Opel but this is total madness,Proton have been moribund for most of this decade,their export markets have collapsed,at home they are losing market share to Perodua. Proton have had so many partners,Honda, Mitsubishi & Renault and each time it seems to end in tears,walk away from this one,it's more trouble than it's worth

18 April 2017
Proton were popular in the 90s as a cut-price Mitsubishi. Even some of their cars such as the GTi got a respectful nod from enthusiasts. However when the likes of Hyundai and Kia upped their game, and Skoda offered cut-price VW, they struggled to find a USP.

18 April 2017
For what they were they were good value,the Proton UK sales network was grafted on to the Lada dealerships, in order to give the dealers
something more expensive to sell. For a while they were pretty successful eventually eclipsing the Lada brand which fell away, why it all went wrong is the cars weren't updated and other "Value" brands such as Hyundai & Kia stepped in,it's worth remembering that is how Kia started ,getting the FSO (Polski-Fiat)range to sell the Kia Pride at it's dealerships and from then Kia have never looked back,have they?

18 April 2017
Waits for someone to say that JLR should buy Lotus...

19 April 2017
Natwest wrote:

Waits for someone to say that JLR should buy Lotus...

Actually Lotus would be a nice fit for JLR. All British grouping. Luxury cars. Luxury 4x4s. All out sports cars.

19 April 2017
Natwest wrote:

Waits for someone to say that JLR should buy Lotus...

Actually Lotus would be a nice fit for JLR. All British grouping. Luxury cars. Luxury 4x4s. All out sports cars.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2017 Range Rover Velar
    First Drive
    23 July 2017
    The Range Rover Velar is the most road-biased car Land Rover has made. So does it still feel like a proper part of the family?
  • Seat Ibiza
    Car review
    21 July 2017
    A model upon which Seat has staked its future, the new Ibiza must now deliver
  • Honda Clarity FCV
    Car review
    21 July 2017
    Honda’s fuel cell flagship reaches its second generation, but is the world ready?
  • Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110 N-Connecta 2017 review
    First Drive
    20 July 2017
    A UK drive in Nissan’s crucial crossover shows an update has not cost it any of that which makes it sell so well
  • Seat Ibiza 1.0 MPI
    First Drive
    20 July 2017
    The Seat Ibiza has wowed in other iterations, but how will the entry-level 1.0-litre MPI version stack up in the UK? We've been to north Wales to find out