Proton etymology: What does its name mean?

Proton was established in 1983 to be Malaysia’s national car maker and has long enjoyed a large slice of the local market, but what does its name mean?

Despite sharing a name with one of the fundamental subatomic particle, one that can found in every element in existence, the car maker’s name has nothing to do with science or physic.

Rather, Proton, officially written as PROTON, is an acronym for Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional or The National Automobile Company in Malay.

The company was established in 1983 by Malaysia’s then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohammed, who now serves as the company’s executive chairman.

Through much of its life, Proton has produced cars that were essentially lightly modified Mitsubishi vehicles. In 1996, Proton acquired a majority stake in Lotus, the British sports car maker and engineering consultation specialists.

In 2012, the Malaysian government sold the company to a large local conglomerate, DRB-HICOM.