The Geely brand is only about 33 years old now, but in the seemingly short time since its founding days of making copycat cars, the brand has grown to be a global powerhouse. But, would any of us know of its existence had it not taken a 49.9% share in Proton?

For most lay people, that may be the case. However, longtime followers of this site (or fans of the Ford or Volvo brand) would learn of the Geely brand a little over a decade ago when Ford, then owner of Volvo, decided to put the Swedish brand up for sale. This would be Geely’s first major acquisition, and the sale amounted to US$1.8 billion, which really wasn’t much, all things considered.

The first Proton-Geely tie-up didn’t actually take place in 2017. Instead, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak first spoke of a partnership in 2014, one that would see Proton expand its foothold in China. The two parties reached an agreement over the deal, which included vehicle design, sourcing, manufacturing, marketing, import and distribution for ASEAN and the China market, and was even witnessed by two-time former PM and Proton founder, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

However, Proton’s outlook continued to remain gloomy in Malaysia, troubled with slowing sales and growing debt. In mid 2016, it requested for a RM1.5 billion soft loan in order to pay vendors, which the government approved, but on the condition that it form a strategic partnership with a foreign brand to rehabilitate the business. This is where Geely really started gaining prominence in Malaysia.


Tun M was saddened by the Proton-Geely agreement. Read more, here.

Geely’s initial plan was supposedly to acquire loss-making Lotus Cars from DRB-Hicom, but in a quick turn of events, it became the leading choice for Proton as its strategic partner. There were five other notable parties that were interested in the deal, including the PSA Group, who wanted majority stake in Proton’s Tanjung Malim plant.

From this point on, well, you pretty much know how things turned out. After the launch of the X70, Proton went on to introduce three updated models, and in 2019 managed to sell more than 100,000 vehicles – the first time it did since 2015.

Its current focus is to continuously improve the model range, and hopefully meet the Q4 deadline for the launch of its most anticipated car yet, the Proton “X50.” You may check out our walk-around tour of the Geely Binyue, of which the “X50” is based on, here. Also, check out Donut Media’s coverage of the Geely brand, below. *Some pronunciations may hurt.