Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Malaysia's Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd. (Proton) will jointly develop two new models.
The two models will be a six-seat small minivan and a small four-wheel-drive sport-utility, both powered by a 1.1-liter engine. They will be derived from Mitsubishi's Japan-market Townbox and Pajero IO, respectively.
Mitsubishi Motors and trading house Mitsubishi Corp. each own 8 percent of Proton, which is Malaysia's dominant carmaker. Mitsubishi is Proton's sole foreign carmaker partner and has provided engineering support since Proton's launch in 1983.
The Malaysian government considers Proton its national car, and has erected steep protectionist tariffs on imports to promote its sales in the Malaysian market. Thanks in part to those tariffs, Proton enjoyed a 55 percent share of the Malaysian market.
'We have reached a level where Proton is ready to offer unique, sophisticated, and environmentally clean vehicles using advanced technology which are affordable to consumers,' Proton CEO Tengku Datuk Mahaleel Tengku Ariff said in a statement.
It was not immediately known whether his reference to 'environmentally clean vehicles' implied that the cars would be powered by Mitsubishi gasoline direct injection engines.