Troubled carmaker Proton is looking to more variants and new models over the next two years to regain market share at home.

Proton, once the market leader in the Malaysian car market has seen its share fall from around 60% in 2002 to 23% currently as tariffs on imported cars have declined.

"The key for the growth of the company is topline growth, and topline growth means basically to get more revenue.

"To get more sales you need to have more product offerings, and that's exactly where the company is concentrating on ... product development that meets market requirements," said chairman Datuk Mohammed Azlan Hashim, reported Malaysia's Business Times.

Proton will launch its Iswara replacement model in January next year.

More variants of existing models will come next year, followed by a completely new model in 2009.

Its most recent launch, the Proton Persona, has received "encouraging" bookings of over 13,500 units since its launch last month.

However, Azlan declined to give Proton's market share goals.

The company also wants to strengthen its export sales, especially within the Asean region. For a start, it plans to expand its presence in Indonesia and enter the Thailand market later this year.

Proton has inked a deal with China's Jinhua Youngman Automobile Manufacturing Co Ltd to export 30,000 completely built-up Gen.2 to be sold under its own brand "Europestar".

It will also develop a new range of Made-in-China Europestar cars with the engineering services provided by Lotus, the report said.

"This is our single-largest overseas deal. We expect to start production in October in our Tanjong Malim plant," said managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir.

Azlan and Syed Zainal were speaking to reporters after a shareholders' meeting in Shah Alam yesterday.

They declined to comment on the strategic alliance talks with Volkswagen AG. No deadline has been fixed to wrap up the talks, they added.

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