Malaysia’s DRB-Hicom Bhd has set its Proton subsidiary an annual production target of 500,000 units to be achieved in the next five years.

Group managing director Datuk Seri Mohd Khamil Jamil told local reporters that it will be increasingly difficult for Proton to survive on current annual sales of 150,000-200,000 units per year, given the rising competition at home and abroad.

Jamil added it would not be easy to achieve these targets but the company would have to try. The first area that needs to be strengthened is Proton’s export business. Less than 20,000 new Proton cars were sold overseas last year – far below what the company sees as it full potential.

A key challenge will be to raise the image of the Proton brand overseas with a greater focus on quality and safety. Priority export markets include Australia, Thailand and Indonesia [all RHD like Malaysia - ed].

Jamil also recognises the need to fill key gaps in the product range, starting with a small A-segment car, which would also help Proton compete more effectively with Perodua in its home market. The company plans to launch two new model ranges over the next five years.