Kuala Lumpur (VNA) - Malaysia may consider restrictions on car imports to protect the country's "infant industry", Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on July 30.

Southeast Asia's third-largest economy has liberalised its automotive industry over the past decade, allowing cheaper car imports while local automaker Proton has struggled to stay afloat as it faced increased competition.

Besides Proton, other Malaysian automakers are Perodua and Naza. Perodua is the domestic market leader, with about 40 percent share in 2017.

Honda Motor Co, Toyota and Nissan of Japan sell both imported and locally assembled units in the Southeast Asian country.

According to data from the Malaysian Automotive Association, Honda is the top-selling foreign brand in Malaysia, with about 21 percent market share last year.

Proton was founded in 1983. Its domestic market share peaked at 74 percent a decade later as drivers took advantage of cheap loans when the government encouraged Malaysians to buy home-grown products. However, Proton’s market share dropped to around 14 percent in 2017 due to competition from foreign automakers.-VNA