This year has been a bittersweet year for Proton. In April, the government announced conditional support to the national carmaker’s plea for assistance. Many saw this as an ultimatum – Proton must work towards business sustainability as a global brand before any government support can be rendered.
Within the same month, the government approved a soft loan of RM1.5 billion to pay its vendors, and Proton began formulating its transformation plan, starting with the announcement of numerous new models to be rolled out of its production lines within the year. The company also needed to identify a strategic foreign partner in order to bring Proton to global heights
In June, the all new Perdana was launched, which demonstrated Proton’s redefined business model. It was a model that was engineered by Proton’s research & development team based on a shared platform with a global car manufacturer. As the result, an elegant D-segment model that was based on profitable business modus operandi.
Fast forward to today, Proton has been making headlines almost on a weekly basis for the right reasons. This excitement is not just due to numerous reports and teasers on the new and upcoming Persona and Saga, but also renewed business direction from Proton’s transformation plan.
Despite being a mixture of truth and speculation, it is a sign that many Malaysians are still interested in Proton’s future – and for many, would like to predict its future as a success.
The future is predicted by learning from the past and studying the present.
I have written extensively previously on Proton’s current products. While it is true that Proton quality consistency can be further improved, it is undeniable that their recent models do not compromise on the occupants’ safety aspects. Proton models continuously receive high safety ratings for new car assessment programmes, such as Asean New Car Assessment Programme and Australasian New Car Assessment Programme, and its ride and handling is one of the best in the class.
Through the special task force, the government is there to assist Proton in ensuring that manufacturing, after-sales, branding and marketing will propel the car maker to the desired heights at the global stage.
Among Proton’s immediate initiatives are the implementation of enhanced quality control measures, extended service centre hours, and re-engineering their brand value – all to create a holistic experience for their customers’ mobility needs.
Recently, I had the pleasure to personally test the upcoming Persona and Saga. I can safely say that I have been very impressed with the overall driving experience of the car, in particular their handling, cabin comfort and very low levels of vibration and harshness.
In a way, the new models seem to mirror the personalities of the two gentleman at Proton’s helm, Datuk Fuuad Kenali and Datuk Radzaif Mohamed – open minded and attentive, yet decisive and goal-oriented.
It is important to note that despite government assistance, Proton has been the party to plan, decide and implement all activities within its transformation phase. Based on the outcomes of the last few months, I remain confident that Proton has the mettle to become a competitive player in the global automotive market.
All I have left to say is – it is time to feel excited about the future of Proton and the automotive industry.