Small-scale Malaysian car manufacturer Proton is developing a new range of in-house engines, including a new hybrid powerplant as part of its strategy to increase its export program. Proton has traditionally relied on engines sourced from other carmakers, namely Mitsubishi, but increased demand from customers seeking fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness has spurred the carmaker to work on new hybrid powertrains.

The first hybrid prototypes have already been built and are currently in testing ahead of a planned launch for early next decade if all goes to plan. Malaysia’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi revealed to the Bernama news agency that he had already test-driven the car and urged the company to continue researching energy-saving technologies. He also remarked that consumers would “be happy when they drive such a car knowing it saves fuel and does not pollute".

In addition to the new hybrid model, Proton is also planning to launch its first-ever MPV model sometime next year.

While Proton is yet to export vehicles to North America, the new hybrid does have some significance as the Malaysian-built cars are currently sold in the UK, South African and Australia.

Pictured above is the Gen2, a vehicle loosely based on a Mitsubishi design but modified extensively by Proton and Lotus.