Proton chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that the national carmaker is aiming to introduce three new models next year in order to increase sales and prop up its financial performance, according to Bernama.

The former prime minister claims the cars will better their predecessors, the Saga, Persona and Perdana. “In the automotive industry, we are always borrowing technology. Major car companies are always exchanging technology. In this regard, we are only using Honda’s platform with the rest coming from our own efforts,” he said, referring to the new civilian-use Honda Accord-based Perdana, which will have an in-house design.

“The new models are equipped with the latest safety features and design. I really hope that all three models will enter the market in stages from January next year and will be well-received.”

Mahathir added that Proton’s sales performance is sluggish at the moment, even though the company was working very hard to produce quality cars such as the Iriz. “I find the Iriz to be very good because it is very light and easy to drive compared with foreign cars of the same quality, but consumers’ response has not been encouraging,” he said. “However, of late the response to our Preve model has been better.”

Meanwhile, the decline in sales is also said to have affected the company’s cash flow, delaying salary increments for executive staff. “We have to make sacrifices to remedy the situation. Bonuses, although not much, will still be given, but with better sales they could probably be higher,” Mahathir said.

The mention of a new Persona is intriguing to say the least, as the Preve was previously touted as a replacement. Still, seeing as the current car is a B-segment sedan (the Preve belongs to the C-segment), it stands to reason that the Iriz-based “Saga” sedan might actually be the next Persona, slotting under the Preve. However, that would now leave the question of a new Saga wide open…

In addition to the three aforementioned models, Proton will also build its first car developed in collaboration with Suzuki – widely tipped to be a Perodua Axia-rivalling A-segment car – that could go on sale as early as August 2016.