In a seemingly inane Facebook post, Proton CEO Li Chunrong let slip that he plans for the national carmaker to sell 150,000 vehicles in 2022. This would be an increase of more than 30% over the company’s performance last year, during which the company sold a total of 114,708 vehicles, including 3,108 exports.

Proton has been on an upward trajectory in terms of sales since its low of 64,744 units in 2018, cresting the 100,000-unit mark every year after. Still, this would be quite a jump to make – last year’s sales grew by a mere 4.5% over 2020’s numbers, although this was hampered by a number of issues such as the lengthy movement control order and the devastating December floods that haltered SUV production.

It will be banking on new product to generate that growth, which will almost certainly be led by a seven-seater SUV based on the Geely Haoyue/Okavango, widely tipped to be called the X90. The Geely version has been spied roaming about rather frequently in recent months, fuelling speculation of an impending launch.

The Saga is also expected to receive yet another upgrade (including what looks to be keyless entry and push-button start), while 2022 will be the first full year of sales for the facelifted Iriz and Persona, which would help make up the numbers.

Proton will also be hoping for exports to drive some of that volume, building on the slow but steady growth in recent years. The company plans to make the big jump to selling in Southeast Asia’s largest markets, Thailand and Indonesia, although Chunrong has previously said that he wants Proton to snatching the lead in the Malaysian market from Perodua first.

Even so, the company has just signed a distributorship deal with smart to sell the latter’s new range of electric vehicles – not just in Malaysia, but crucially in Thailand as well. This means that Proton will have to build up a dealer network to support sales of the part-German, part-Chinese cars in the Land of Smiles, making it easier to sell its own vehicles.