Malaysia’s Proton launches first SUV with China’s Geely

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian national car maker Proton has launched its first sports utility vehicle in a bid to turn around its fortunes, more than a year after China’s Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd. bought a key stake in the company.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad launched the 1.8 liter-engine X70 late Wednesday and expressed hopes for Proton’s recovery.

The X70 is based on Geely’s Boyue vehicle, which is one of China’s best-selling SUVs. It is priced competitively from 99,800 ringgit ($23,800) to 123,800 ringgit ($29,540).

Proton once was king of Malaysia’s roads but its sales have suffered due to growing competition and a reputation for poor quality and bland models. Proton was privatized in 2012 and Geely bought a 49.9 percent stake in June last year.

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