The independent UK importer of Malaysia’s Proton vehicles added 30 new dealers nation-wide last year, taking its outlet count to 90 while planning further expansion.

Proton Cars UK general manager of sales and marketing Simon Park said: “Our commitment to dealer recruitment throughout 2006 has given us the opportunity to cover a far greater area of the UK and we are now able to serve considerably more customers.”

“We believe that dealer recruitment is the key to long term business success and we are planning to recruit a further 30 dealers by the end of 2007,” he added.

Proton boosted sales 64% to 2,701 units in the 2.34m UK market last year and its market share was 0.12%, according to Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) data. Along with Ssangyong, it is one of the smallest franchises in the UK and its 2006 volume was comparable to specialist luxury and sportscar makers Bentley and Aston Martin.

It was in fact outsold by defunct Rover (2,706), whose last surplus stock was still gradually being sold off in 2006.