But the stock market meltdown and currency devaluation in Proton's native Malaysia means used car demand has dried up overnight, leaving the UK importer saddled with several thousand vehicles. A series of deals with Avis Rent a Car, United Kenning and EuroDollar saw Proton increase sales by a quarter to almost 11,000 vehicles this year.
Some of the initial tranche of ex-daily rental cars has already been exported, but the majority is still in the UK. The company is exploring new avenues of disposal - including other right-hand-drive markets overseas. A Proton spokesman said: 'It's not a situation that Proton believes will adversely affect residual values and we will be doing everything we can to prevent that from happening.'