Malaysia's first national car company Proton Holdings reported a sharp sales rise globally in the first nine months of 2019, driven by new models, recent investments to upgrade its dealer network in its home market and promotional activity.

The brand's sales, mostly in its domestic market, jumped to 70,330 units, significantly exceeding full year 2018 sales of 64,744 units, a decades low for the company.

Sales in September alone jumped 97% year on year to 8,934 units, helped by the launch of the Proton Saga in the previous month.

Driving the brand's recovery was the launch at the end of last year of the new X70, a locally-made compact SUV based on the Geely Boyue which Proton claims is now the best-selling SUV in its class in Malaysia.

The new Saga, an A segment saloon, has been received well with 3,994 deliveries made to dealers last month.

China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group acquired a 49.9% stake in Proton Holdings just over two years ago and has provided its Malaysian partner with production rights and support for some of its passenger vehicle models for sale in Malaysia and selected overseas markets.

Proton also continues to expand its network of 3S and 4S outlets in its home market, including new outlets and upgrades of existing dealerships, and is also investing heavily in staff training programmes to help lift the brand's image.