Proton is finalising plans to enter India as part of a broader, aggressive programme of expansion into overseas developing markets.

According to local reports, Malaysia's first national car company selected three models for assembly in India during a two-day 'technical' clinic in New Delhi last week.

The 1.2-litre Savvy, the new 1.3-litre Saga and the 1.6-litre Persona models are now undergoing technical evaluation in India. The automaker is currently holding talks with potential partners in India with a view to assembling the first of the three models early next year. Proton said its cars will be CNG-compatible, which will be a big help in a market such as India.

Proton first said it was in talks with potential partners in India in early 2008. It has now confirmed that negotiations with Mahindra & Mahindra have been called off after the Indian firm adopted a more cautious stance following the limited initial success it has had with the Renault Logan.

As part of a new eight-year business plan unveiled in May with the release of its financial results, the company said it would focus its efforts on the high growth markets of South-East Asia, China, India and the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in its home market.

Proton began shipping the Gen2 to China in late 2007. In Iran, Zagross Khodro distributues the Proton Waja, Wira and Gen2 models and plans to sell around 17,000 of these in 2008, rising to 30,000 in 2009 and 100,000 per year within five years, according to the Iranian company.

Proton also exports its cars to Indonesia, though volumes remain low, and, more recently, to Thailand. It has long been selling its cars in mature markets in Europe and Australia, though with limited success.

Tony Pugliese