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Proton Holdings Bhd is seeking reimbursement from the government for the amount it has spent on research and development (R&D) to produce new cars, The Star reports.

“We have asked the government to reimburse some of the money we invested on R&D projects,” chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told reporters after launching Proton’s “Drive for Gaza” fund-raiser, a campaign aimed at helping victims in the Palestine-Israeli conflict.

“This is a normal practice in the car industry, where incentives are given to carmakers for development of new technology,” he said, citing South Korea as an example.

The national carmaker is set to launch a new car, which it said has cost as much as RM300 million to develop, before the end of the year. This new car is expected to be the much-awaited Global Small Car (code-named P2-30A).

Proton Suprima S and Preve

Dr Mahathir told the English-language daily that Proton had never received any direct cash hand-outs from the government and over the years had used its own money for R&D projects.

Despite the introduction of the Preve and Suprima S (above) in the last two years, Proton shifted a meagre 52,920 cars from January to May 2014. That’s 2% less than in the same five-month period last year, when it managed 53,909, reports The Star.

Its domestic market share had also shrunk to 19% as of end-May 2014, compared with 21% a year ago.