KUALA LUMPUR: Proton cars could become official cars for next year's European Football Championships (Euro 2012) in Ukraine.
Euro 2012 will also be held in Poland.
That possibility comes from Proton's entry into the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC). It is among several inroads the manufacturer has made to enter new markets.
Proton cars broke into the Japanese market following their team's success in the Rally of Hokkaido, which is part of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
Proton Motorsports head Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood said it was negotiating with the Ukrainian government following Proton Motorsports' appearance at the Prime Yalta Rally Ukraine in June.
"The Ukrainian government is interested in introducing Proton cars to its market and we are in negotiations with it. The first step could be for Proton to supply cars to be used as taxis and official cars for the Euro 2012 football championship.
"This shows that we are expanding our business through rallying. Everything we do is about branding and there's always a commercial consideration to it."
Proton leads the APRC drivers' and manufacturers' standings and is ranked sixth in the IRC manufacturers' standings.
Razak said the Proton Satria Neo had received an encouraging response in the Japanese market
"Previously, it was unthinkable that Proton cars could be sold in Japan. But, now, people there see the Satria Neo as a highly reliable and affordable car to convert to a rally car."
He said Proton was ready to launch new cars in Europe that meet stringent safety standards.
The Proton Motorsports Rally Team, he said, introduced the Proton band through rallying.
"Even reviewers like Jeremy Clarkson, who tested the Proton Satria Neo S2000 for his Top Gear show on British television, seemed to approve of Proton cars.
"This is a reviewer who's had nothing good to say about Proton or Perodua cars before. So, this shows that we are coming up with better products that we can globalise.
"We're bringing the Malaysian brand abroad. We're not being jaguh kampung (local ace) any more.
"So, we hope other Malaysian companies join us. We can offer massive promotional platforms via IRC and APRC."
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