Proton is pushing ahead with plans to roll out its first multi-purpose vehicle (MPV or minivan).

Managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir has set March 2009 for the MPV's debut. It will be produced at Proton's MVF (medium volume factory) in Shah Alam, Selangor, according to a report in Malaysia's Business Times newspaper.

Syed Zainal believes the MPV will be popular despite the changing mood over energy consumption.

"Proton needs the MPV model. The price will be affordable. The MPV will be value-for-money," he said at the Shah Alam factory.

Proton is also instituting a campaign to improve quality.

Addressing some 5,000 employees, Syed Zainal urged them to take ownership of quality, which is critical to profitability and overseas exports.

"If we produce cars with defects, consumers will get fed up with us," he said.

"Let's unite. Let's work together in a sincere manner so that we can achieve profit for the company," he told the workers.

Syed Zainal said some 60 per cent of defects in Proton cars were due to poor quality components from vendors.

He, nevertheless, admitted that the rest of the blame fell on the firm's workforce, the report added.