Believe it or not, the Proton-Geely partnership has just crossed the three year mark. The two companies formally inked their partnership deal on June 23, 2017, which saw Geely acquire a 49.9% equity stake in the national automaker.

Driven by the ambition of becoming the third leading auto brand in the ASEAN region by market share, Proton and Geely quickly got to work and launched the highly anticipated Proton X70 in December 2018.

What follows after was essentially a range-wide revamp – every model from the Saga, Persona, Iriz, and Exora was updated with new looks and better tech. Throughout 2019, Proton sold 100,821 units of vehicles (domestic + export), marking the first time it crossed the 100,000-unit threshold since 2015. Its overall market share for 2019 was 16.7%, the highest since 2014, and it also returned to profitability.

The deal also saw Proton become one of Geely’s global R&D centres, focusing on right-hand drive research and development and market adaptation. The Proton X70 was of course the first fruit of this labour, but there are two more models to come, the next being a B-segment SUV based on the Binyue (unofficially known as the Proton X50). The smaller SUV will be locally assembled from the get-go, by the way.

According to Proton’s director of group engineering Hazrin Fazail Haroon, one of the most obvious effects of the partnership was the introduction of Geely’s four core values – problem solving, benchmarking, compliance and achiever. These have been inculcated in Proton from the first day since Geely came into the picture.

Proton’s aftersales division also said Malaysians are beginning to praise Proton’s quality. For example, the updated product line is offering better value for money, and the aftersales service quality is also much better than before. The latter is the result of an aggressive turnaround plan to upgrade over 100 authorised Proton outlets in the country to 3S or 4S status.