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On/off VW/Proton courtship off again

Editorial Staff

VW says - again - that it's courtship with Proton is off.

Proton is, in the great scheme of things, a minnow.

But it is also a very clever minnow - and in the world of motor manufacturers - that rare thing, a company that makes profit in more quarters than it makes losses.

VW, a company that many think is getting too big for its boots with Audi, Porsche, Seat, Skoda, VW and Bugatti brands in its stable, has been sniffing around Proton for several years.

But every time Proton thinks a proposal may be about to be made, it's clear that VW's bended knee is not preparing for a long term relationship but, rather, to run as if from the starting blocks.

The irony is that Proton - in part because of its Lotus division and in part by, literally, going back to the drawing board and re-thinking some aspects of car design - has come up with a European car that has received very positive reviews in the European media. The EMAS is a single platform, multi-format compact car. That's compact in the European sense, not in the rather bloated American sense.

Proton has a collaboration agreement with Mitsubishi, which had for many years provided the basis of Proton cars in what were basically rebodied old Mitsubishi models. Even today, the older Wira models with the Mitsubishi engines are fondly owned by Malaysians.

But Proton has also been holding co-operation talks with Renault with a view to jointly developing a new engine.