ProtonProton hopes to be profitable in this 2009/2010 financial year and so far things look good with a profit before tax of RM64 million for Q1 of the current financial year. Revenue grew by 8% to RM1.85 billion compared to RM1.71 billion in the same period last year. These improved results caused Proton shares to rise about 2.45% to RM2.93 per share.

Proton says this is thanks to a better product mix (Exora, Exora, Exora!) even though Proton sales had actually dropped 2% (now at 39,327 units) compared to the same period last year (39,888 units), but this isn’t too bad considering the total industry volume itself had actually dropped by 11% during the same period. There have been a total of 18,000 orders for the Exora since order taking began up to the 15th of August 2009. The Exora managed 1,600 bookings in Indonesia since its launch recently. Proton currently holds 31% market share of the TIV sales as of June 2009.

In the exports area the company said it aimed to export about 20,925 units this year compared to 18,428 units last year. This is still a small percentage of cars compared to the numbers sold in Malaysia but Proton intends to shift to a more export-centric organisation. Proton also wants to sell more CKD export cars instead of the usual CBU cars currently sold, but CKD usually only starts to become viable when volume increases to an amount that can sustain an assembly line for the CKD packs. Proton has started out with CKD models in China and Iran. GEN2 CKD operations in Iran by Zagross Khodro began in April 2009 and CKD pack supply to Youngman in China have also commenced.

What’s coming up for Proton? Some details were revealed at the Q&A session after its latest AGM and others are revealed in their annual report for the last financial year. What should be exciting for you guys is a new car set for introduction in the second half of next year. Proton would not say which car this is but this car is widely rumoured to be a model based on the Mitsubishi Lancer. Manual transmissions will be offered to keep the entry price point low so this should be very good news for those who want to do their own shifting action in a sporty sedan. A page in the annual report also reveals that a facelift for the Persona is targeted to go into production by the end of 2009.

Further down the launch schedule will be a new car that will be the fruits of a project called the Global Small Car Programme. Proton has revealed that this will be a small and trendy hatchback with a small capacity engine that meets international emission standards. When this is launched, its goodbye time for the Savvy. Proton’s next generation of powertrains (Campro replacement?) are also being developed together with Lotus as part of a program called the Phoenix Project.

In the alternative fuels department, Proton will be skipping hybrid cars and fuel cell cars and will be focusing on electric cars. There was a hybrid system installed in a GEN2 called the Lotus EVE Hybrid Concept that combined the 1.6 litre Campro engine with a 40hp electric motor. From the looks of it, this will probably remain a technology showcase by Lotus to promote its engineering decision.

Proton currently has two prototype electric vehicles – one based on the Saga and another on the Persona. You’ve seen the Saga EV featured here on this blog. It is an EV focused on economy and the 10.1 second 0-100km/h acceleration time (despite 168hp) is a testament of this, but the Persona EV prototype is a totally different animal – it has been developed as a performance EV concept. This likely means larger and higher capacity batteries but a much more powerful electric motor to match!

Look after the jump for a copy of the annual report.