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

Malaysia's Proton launches first SUV with China's Geely
Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, right, poses with his wife Siti Hasmah during the launch of Proton new SUV in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. Malaysian national car maker Proton launches the X70, its first sports utility vehicle. Loss-making Proton, which is 49.9 percent owned by China's Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd., is hoping that the sleek SUV will help to turnaround its fortune. The X70 is based on Geely's Boyue, that was launched two years ago and is one of China's best-selling SUV. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

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 (,800) to 123,800 ringgit (,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.