(File pix) Proton Holdings Bhd’s (Proton) will be announcing a strategic partner come May which will allow the national car manufacturer to compete locally and internationally with better quality cars.

IPOH: Proton Holdings Bhd’s (Proton) will be announcing a strategic partner come May which will allow the national car manufacturer to compete locally and internationally with better quality cars said Second International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan.

To succeed and sustain the nation’s automobile industry, Proton cannot rely solely on the local market, he pointed out.

“If we fail to follow the automotive industry development (in collaborating with strategic partners), we will be left behind. In 2018, it is expected that more international car manufacturers (will be looking into) producing auto-pilot cars with latest technology.

“The collaboration would also help to boost international sales, as our current market is quite small with only 600,000 cars a year, compared to the United States (17 million cars a year) and China (25 million cars),” Ong told reporters after officiating the SME Bank Northern Region Mini Xcess at Kinta Riverfront Hotel here today.

The strategic partner could be from the US or Europe where the partnership would mean that Proton will be able to tap into the automaker’s research and development expertise.

Ong refused to neither elaborate nor hint on possible partners. He merely mentioned that Chinese car manufacturer Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd is not the only possible partner for Proton.

“Proton is owned by DRB-Hicom and the government is not helping them (Proton) to make the decision. We are just advising (them) on the direction (to look) to find the strategic partner,” he added.

It was reported yesterday that Geely has withdrawn its bid to acquire a stake in Proton.