Malaysian national car company Proton Holdings said its sales increased by around 80% year on year to 9,974 units in February, despite growing concerns over the COVID19 coronavirus outbreak.

The company said compared with the previous month, its sales were up by over 17%, contrasting sharply with a month on month overall market decline.

The Malaysian Automotive Association has yet to release total industry volume (TIV) data for February but, based on internal analysis, the automaker estimated its market share to be 23.8% in February, in line with the previous month and the highest since August 2013.

Proton attributed its strong performance improvement to its now locally made X70 compact SUV, based on the Geely Boyue model.

The company said its Persona small car dominated the saloon car B segment with 2,653 sales in February while the Iriz led the hatchback B segment with 3,934 sales.

Proton added its Exora claimed top spot in the compact MPV segment leader last month.

Proton CEO Li Chunrong said orders for the X70 remained strong and he remained "encouraged about our plans for the rest of the year".