Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional, or Proton, Malaysia's national motor industry, has big plans for the future, including an entry into grand prix racing. A highly publicised takeover of Britain's ailing Lotus group last year for US$85 million gives Proton much-needed engineering expertise as well as access to Lotus' Formula One experience. However, the name Team Lotus is owned by David Hunt, brother of the late world champion, James. The current rumour in grand prix circles is that Prodrive, the company which runs the Subaru world rally team, will take over the management of Benetton, the team which gave Michael Schumacher his two world championships. There are plans to develop an engine, badged as a Proton, in conjunction with Lotus. As well as entering motor racing at the highest level, Proton is expanding rapidly. It is expected that, by the end of the decade, Proton will produce 400,000 units annually - up from 160,000 at present - and will build manufacturing facilities in India and South Africa. The company currently has plants in the Philippines and Vietnam. Proton suffered a severe setback when its energetic chairman, Yahaya Ahmad, was killed in a helicopter accident in March this year, but company sources said it continued to receive government support for his companies which encompassed Proton. The company still has plans to produce the exciting Lotus sports car, the Elise, in Malaysia. Proton was originally a joint venture, established in 1983 between the Malaysian Government and Mitsubishi of Japan, but relations have cooled somewhat in recent years with Mitsubishi refusing to part with the latest technology. It is believed Proton has turned to Britain's Rover group and Citroen for technical collaboration. Lotus Engineering, a valuable part of the takeover of the group, will inevitably contribute to the development of the next generation of Proton models. The original Protons contained around 18 per cent local content. More than 65 per cent of components are now produced in Malaysia. Britain and Singapore are its major export markets, although a total of 28 countries also receive Protons.