Both Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) were instrumental in the foundation of Proton. The large majority of vehicle platforms, engines, parts and technical expertise were once sourced from Mitsubishi Motors. Additionally, the Managing Director of Proton between 1988 and 1993 was Kenji Iwabuchi, a former Mitsubishi Motors executive. Proton’s staff were also trained by Mitsubishi in Japan as part of a bilateral agreement. Management of Proton was gradually assumed by Malaysians in the 1990s. All Proton cars launched between 1985 and 2000 with the exception of the Proton Tiara were based on Mitsubishi vehicles. Proton began producing indigenously designed models after 2000, but resumed product collaboration with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in 2008. The result of the renewed collaboration is the Proton Inspira, a rebadged 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer for sale exclusively in the Malaysian market. It marked a return to closer ties between Proton and Mitsubishi.
Both Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) formerly held a minority 30% joint stake in Proton, while a majority 70% stake was held by the Heavy Industries Corporation of Malaysia (HICOM). The Mitsubishi joint stake was later reduced to 15.86%, or 7.93% each for MMC and MC respectively until it was fully sold to Khazanah Nasional in January 2005. Mitsubishi Motors, Japan’s sole unprofitable carmaker of that period sold its 7.93% Proton stake earlier in March 2004 in an effort to reduce its ¥1.14 trillion (USD$11 billion) debt. The sale of Mitsubishi’s joint stake in Proton marked the end of its 22-year investment in Proton. Nonetheless, the Proton Inspira currently serves as a symbol of the strong historical relationship between Proton and Mitsubishi Motors, or to a larger extent Malaysia and Japan.
In 1994, French automobile manufacturer Citroën announced plans for the production of diesel powered cars in Malaysia under a joint venture with Proton. Proton’s then CEO, Tan Sri Yahaya Ahmad also advocated an alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroën for the purpose of technology transfer. Negotiations dragged on until 1995, but finally materialized in 1996 with the launch of the Proton Tiara. It was based on the Citroën AX and powered by a 1.1L Citroën l4 petrol engine, in contrast to the initial plans for a diesel option. The joint venture between Proton and Citroën stagnated after the death of Yahaya Ahmad in a helicopter crash the following year. The Proton Tiara itself failed to compete against its rivals from Perodua and production ended in 2000, just 4 years after its launch.
Youngman Europestar RCR, a rebadged Proton Gen-2 in China.
Proton entered the People’s Republic of China in 2007 under a strategic joint venture with China Youngman Automobile Group Co., Ltd.. The agreement involved a minimum of 30,000 Proton Gen-2 CBU units which were rebadged in China under Youngman’s Europestar marque. In 2008, the Proton Persona became the second model to be sold under the Europestar brand.
 The Gen-2 and Persona were originally known as the RCR (short for RaCeR or Racing) and Jing Yue between 2007 and late 2009, but both cars were later facelifted and renamed as the L3 5-door and L3 4-door (or L3 Sedan) for the 2010 model year respectively. Both models received unique parts and facelifts from Youngman between 2007 and 2013. The most recent facelifts of the Europestar L3 GT 5-door (Proton Gen-2) and Europestar L3 GT 4-door (Proton Persona) offer new front bumpers, unique grilles and mirror-mounted turn signals on the exterior, in addition to a redesigned climate control cluster and leather upholstery on the interior. Youngman has also introduced less expensive variants of their L3 hatchback and saloon models, powered by the tried & tested 1.5 litre Mitsubishi 4G15M engine.
Youngman unveiled the Europestar L5 hatchback and saloon models at the 2011 Shanghai Motorshow. The exterior design and interior equipment are indigenous to Youngman, but both cars are based on an extended Proton Gen-2 platform (2,670mm, 70mm longer than the original) and powered by Proton’s CamPro CPS 1.6 litre engine. The Europestar T5 was previewed on 23 April 2012, a SUV designed by Lotus and Youngman and based on the Proton Gen-2 platform. It was scheduled for a late 2012 launch but as of early 2013, remains in the conceptual stage of development.
The 2014 Proton Perdana, a rebadged eighth generation Honda Accord.
Further information: Proton Perdana (second generation)
On 29 October 2012, Proton entered a collaboration with Honda Motor Company, Ltd. Both companies have agreed to explore collaboration opportunities in the areas of technology enhancement, new product line up and the sharing of vehicle platforms and facilities.
A year later in November 2013, it was revealed that the PRM would be based on the North American eighth generation Honda Accord. The PRM will launch in two phases, the first in mid-December for sale exclusively to the Malaysian government and the second within the next 2 years for the Malaysian Domestic Market. Around 3,000 units of the PRM will be produced initially to replace the ageing Proton Perdana V6 fleet in use by the federal government. The result of the collaboration, the second generation Proton Perdana, was unveiled on 11 December 2013 at an official ceremony in Putrajaya.