Under-performing Malaysian auto maker Proton Holdings Bhd is considering leasing out its spare manufacturing capacity to a third party.

Proton has two plants – Shah Alam and Tanjung Malim – with a combined capacity of 380,000 units annually.

The auto maker says it has 50% spare capacity. The Tanjung Malim plant has a designed capacity of 1 million units annually.

Chairman Nadzmi Salleh is quoted by the government’s Bernama news agency as saying there is no timeframe for finding a third party.

“We don't have any parties talking to us, but in our long-term planning for better utilization of plant capacity, we would of course like to do a third-party assembly,” he says.

Meantime, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, now a Proton adviser, says the auto maker is open to any strategic partnerships with companies that have the technology, no matter their size.

He tells Bernama it is probably better for Proton to get technology from a small company.

“We are not planning to work with any major companies by giving shares or allowing them to take shares,” he says. “But if there are good proposals, we will consider them.”