KUALA LUMPUR — Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd (Proton), Malaysia's national car company, is studying the feasibility of setting up an assembly plant in Iran.

Proton Chief Executive Officer Tengku Datuk Mahaleel Tengku Ariff says the move followed an invitation from the Iranian government, which is keen to see Proton expand further in the Middle East. Proton also is considering setting up an assembly plant in Egypt, but the plan had encountered some problems, Mahaleel says. Proton cars are exported to 10 Middle East countries, which took 3,391 units last year.

“It is too early to say much about the Iran project, as it is still at the feasibility study stage,” Mahaleel tells reporters after a ceremony at which 246 Proton cars were handed over to Foreign Minister Datuk Syed Hamid Albar.

The cars, comprising 60 Perdana V-6s and 186 Wiras, will be used for the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) Foreign Ministers Conference to be held here June 27-30. Mahaleel says the conference will give Proton the opportunity to introduce its cars to more OIC member countries. Currently, Proton exports about 1,300 cars to OIC member countries — Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. A total of 63 countries will attend the conference.