During the prize presentation for Proton’s marketing challenge for its X70 SUV, its CEO Dr Li Chunrong outlined his bold plans for 2020 and beyond. On the back of strong sales this year – which put the national carmaker just hundreds of units behind second-placed Honda at the half-year mark – the executive did not mince his words, announcing that the company is aiming to eventually wrestle the #1 spot from Perodua.

“Our target is to be the number one carmaker in Malaysia and number three in ASEAN,” Li said. “Some people have laughed at this, but look at the results – last year we were number four, from April this year we are number two. Maybe next year we can be number one for one month!”

To do this, Proton has set itself a few targets for the near future. The first is that it is targeting to sell over 100,000 vehicles next year, likely to be buoyed by the introduction of a highly-anticipated small SUV – expected to be based on the Geely Binyue and called the X50.

Li cites the company’s impressive growth in the first half of the year as proof that the lofty target is within reach. Sales have shot up by 59.1% (or 60.55% according to the Malaysian Automotive Association’s sales data), outpacing both its immediate competitors and the total industry volume.

Proton also plans to achieve the top spot in its class in JD Power’s Customer Service Index (CSI) and Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) studies in Malaysia, through its sales and service network that is set to grow to 150 3S and 4S centres.