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Free Website Counters SPY the Man: September 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

SPY ----> GM Sequel Prototype Fuel Cell Concept Car

Monday, September 25, 2006

Proton ups quality, ready to compete

Proton Holdings Bhd’s efforts to enhance the quality of its cars will enable it to compete on a level-playing field in two years, managing director Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said.

“Two years is a reasonable timeframe for us to compete on a level-playing field. There has been more enforcement on quality and we have been consolidating our vendor network,” he said.

Proton’s Quality Enhancement Campaign is into its fifth month and several issues that plagued earlier models like the Waja and Gen2, has been resolved on later models like the Savvy and Satria Neo, he said.

He was updating the media on the qualities improvement initiatives at Proton’s centre of excellence in Shah Alam.

Based on a comparison of warranty claims within a similar period, he said quality concerns for both the Savvy and Satria Neo were at a minimal 0.5%.

“Like any other car manufacturer, there are weaknesses within our system which need to and are now being addressed on a continuous basis,” he said.

Syed Zainal said Proton would not sacrifice quality to meet launch dates for new models and would postpone the launch date of the two new models to be introduced mid-2007 if quality is not up to standards.

He said Proton is trying to change its poor brand perception that has dogged the national carmaker after the Waja and Gen2 were introduced to the market.

“It takes a long time to change the general mindset. We are addressing all complaints until we get to a level of satisfaction. But we aren’t at that level yet,” Syed Zainal said.

He said there would be a recall on the Savvy and Satria Neo if there were to be errors in the design.

On its sports car subsidiary, Lotus, Syed Zainal said Proton is committed to turn around the company through product optimisation, efficiency in manufacturing and right sizing.

As for Proton’s study conducted with PSA Peugeot Citroen, he said the two companies would examine the possibility of PSA taking an equity stake in Proton.

However, he added that it was still too early to determine if such a deal would take place. On Sept 8, Syed Zainal said the government, who is the major shareholder in Proton, had the final say on the possibility of a foreign party taking up a stake in Proton.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Three new Lotus models in next three years

KUALA LUMPUR: Group Lotus, a subsidiary of Proton Holdings Bhd, yesterday announced plans to launch three new models in the next three years.

The new models are the new Esprit, a new mid-range Lotus model and a Lotus/Proton high-performance vehicle.

“This is part of the company’s five-year strategic business plan that focuses on the underlying strength of the company, as recommended through a comprehensive study on Lotus' businesses,’’ Proton said in a statement.

Group Lotus CEO Michael J. Kimberley said the Lotus/Proton high-performance vehicle was targeted for launch in May 2008, followed by the new mid-range Lotus in December 2008.

The flagship new Esprit has been extended to incorporate more Lotus “DNA” and other enhancements to meet the changing needs of the global marketplace. The car will be unveiled in December 2009.

“The business plan also provides opportunities for global growth in the high technology engineering consultancy business, including expansion into new markets, joint ventures and strategic alliances.

“This plan will definitely set a brighter future for Lotus. We have some great opportunities ahead of us and some already underway. It’s a very bright future but we have to work hard to bring all opportunities to fruition,” Kimberley added.

Meanwhile, Kimberley also stressed that the company had to pursue cost reduction initiatives as a short-term measure to strengthen the company’s efficiency and finances to ensure that Lotus contributes effectively to the Proton Group.

“This exercise is to match capacity with the global demand. It is essential that we respond fast to market conditions while we drive forward this exciting long-term plan,” he added.

One of the cost reduction initiatives will be to streamline the organisation. The company plans to “right-size” its workforce through a voluntary exercise and that is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

“This will mean that a leaner, more cost effective and efficient Lotus will be far more globally competitive and realigned for business growth, as a member of Proton.”

Meanwhile, Proton managing director Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said the decisions made by the management in Britain were critical to achieve the objectives of Lotus given the fast-changing market conditions.

He said Proton, together with the management of Group Lotus, was determined to see that the strategic plans, company realignment and expansion of model range would positively redefine how the business was carried out in markets where Lotus had a presence.

“These initiatives shall further enhance its future operational and financial viability, as Lotus remains an important component of the Proton Group.

“We strongly believe that Lotus has an important role to play in the group to enable us to become a successful automotive engineering and manufacturing entity, and a prominent brand globally,” Syed Zainal said.

Malaysia's Proton subsidiary Lotus to cut jobs

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's loss-making national automaker Proton said Thursday its British-based high-performance subsidiary Lotus would cut jobs by year's end to reduce costs and introduce three new car models in the next five years.

Sagging local sales of Proton cars have seen the company's share of the local market dwindle from nearly one in every two cars on Malaysian roads to just over 30 percent.

"Proton, together with the management of Group Lotus, is determined to see that the strategic plans, company realignment and expansion of model range will positively redefine how the business is carried out,'' said Proton managing director Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir.

Lotus chief executive officer Michael Kimberly said in a statement it plans to pursue cost-cutting measures "as a short-term measure to strengthen the company's efficiency and finances to ensure that Lotus contributes effectively to the Proton group.''

Proton's second quarter losses, ending in June, stood at 58.6 million ringgit (US$16 million; euro12.62 million) compared with a loss of 12.4 million ringgit in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue also dipped by 31 percent on year.

The statement, issued on both Proton's and Lotus' Web sites, said the Norfolk-based company would "right-size'' its workforce via a voluntary exercise by the end of 2006.

It did not elaborate.

"This will mean that a leaner, more cost effective and efficient Lotus will be far more globally competitive and realigned for business growth,'' Kimberley said in the press release.

In 2004, Lotus employed around 1,400 people, according to the Web site of GlobalExpense, a company tasked with managing Lotus' employee expenses.

Last week, France's Peugeot-Citroen SA said it would explore possible cooperation with Proton, giving it a better footing in the highly competitive Asian market.

Proton, which is under pressure to boost its sales and return to profit by revamping its model lineup, has also said it was talking with China's Chery Automobile Co. about building and selling each other's cars in China and Southeast Asia.

Proton also has a technology alliance with Japanese automaker Mitsubishi.

Kimberley said a new Lotus/Proton high-performance vehicle is targeted for launch in mid-2008 followed by a mid-range model in December 2008.

Its iconic Esprit model, featured in two James Bond movies, is undergoing a revamp and will be unveiled the following year.

No sales targets were provided.

Proton is under heavy pressure from foreign carmakers as well as local rivals.

Second national carmaker Perodua, part-owned by Japan's Daihatsu Motor Co. Ltd., has so far outsold Proton in Malaysia for the first time ever this year. - AP

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

SPY ----> Audi TT ABT

SPY ----> Kia Pro_Cee'd Concept Car

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Proton still has to deal with control issues

Proton Holdings Bhd may still have to deal with the issue of control before any collaboration with PSA Peugeot Citroen could be successfully realised, analysts said.

Proton signed a letter of intent with Peugeot on Sept 15 to study possible co-operation between them. The study, which will last several months, will focus on areas such as product development, quality initiatives, vendor development, contract assembly and distribution.

OSK Investment Research analyst Wan Azhar Mustapha said for such a collaboration to take off, Proton's major shareholder Khazanah Nasional Bhd, with a 38.32% stake as of July 20, 2006, may have to give up a controlling stake to PSA.

“A very sticky issue is regarding control. Definitely PSA would want to have some sort of control and it depends on Proton and Khazanah to sort it out. Volkswagen (AG) debacle is still fresh in everyone's mind,” he told FinancialDaily in a written reply.

Another analyst agreed that PSA would only share its technology if it holds a major equity in the national carmaker.

“In other cases, like the Proton and Mitsubishi (Corp) partnership, Mitsubishi is paying a fee for using Proton’s platform, of which does not do much for Proton.

“If Peugeot were to take a stake, you could see a similar arrangement to that of Perodua and Daihatsu. Then only could a decent platform be achieved and that would in turn help increase Proton’s market share,” she said.

Nonetheless, Wan Azhar said notwithstanding the control issue, Proton could benefit greatly from the cooperation, especially in product development via platform sharing and joint development.

He said a manufacturing contract would address the underutilisation of Proton's Tanjung Malim plant, which is running at about 15% capacity (150,000 cars annually versus one million capacity).

He said the existing platform of PSA vehicles could easily be adopted by Proton to create new models in a relatively short time.

He added that PSA’s extensive sales and distribution network globally could also help Proton make inroads into overseas market.

As for the diesel technology segment, in which PSA has a strong presence, Wan Azhar said Proton could use it as a basis to penetrate the European markets, where 50% of vehicles run on diesel.

“For Proton to regain its number one status in the country, more needs to be done. Products, quality, pricing and after-sales service are among the factors that could help Proton,” he said.

On whether the alliance would help to solve Proton’s bad brand perception, he said: “Quality issues are very subjective. Peugeot is not known as a leading carmaker in terms of quality and after-sales service but nonetheless, we feel that at least it is better than Proton.”

DRB-HICOM And General Motors Sign MoU

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 (Bernama) -- DRB-HICOM Bhd, an integrated automotive company, Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with General Motors Corporation (GM) for the proposed collaboration for the participation of GM in the equity of Hicomobil Sdn Bhd.

Hicomobil is a wholly owned subsidiary of DRB-HICOM and the franchised distributor of Chevrolet vehicles in Malaysia.

Through the new strategic partnership, DRB-HICOM will hold 49 percent, while GM will hold 51 percent of equity in Hicomobil.

Hicomobil is expected to commence with the new distribution set up by the fourth quarter of 2006, DRB-HICOM said in a statement, here Monday.

It said the new line up of Chevrolet vehicles to be distributed were Chevrolet Aveo Sedan, Chevrolet Aveo Epica, a semi luxury saloon and Chevrolet Captiva, a sport utility vehicle (SUV) which is a success in Australia and Europe.

Hicomobil was established in 2003 to distribute the Chevrolet vehicles in Malaysia and currently, the company distributes the Chevrolet Aveo, Chevrolet Optra Sedan, Chevrolet Optra-5 and Chevrolet Optra Estate.

"We appreciate DRB-HICOM's persistence and commitment and after a long discussion, we finally sign this MoU today. The strategic collaboration will further foster and fortify our relationship with GM and we believe this partnership will enhance Chevrolet brand image in the domestic market especially with the strong commitment from GM," its group managing director, Datuk Mohd Khamil Jamil said.

"Through the new partnership, we are able to capture the experience and expertise of GM, a proven success in other countries in Asean," he said.

GM, the automotive company, which has been the global industry leader for the past 75 years said the new collaboration with DRB-HICOM in Malaysia would be GM's latest investment in South East Asia after Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.

"This strategic partnership will give GM the opportunity to tap on Malaysia's tremendous passenger car market and to be more aggressive in marketing Chevrolet products in Malaysia. At the same time, to study the viability of producing the completely-knock-down (CKD) Chevrolet in Malaysia at DRB-HICOM's automotive plant in Pekan, Pahang," the company said.


GM to buy 51% of Hicomobil

General Motors Corporation (GM), the world’s largest automotive company, is acquiring a 51% stake in DRB-Hicom Bhd’s unit, Hicomobil Sdn Bhd (HSB), in a strategic tie-up.

The two companies on Sept 18 signed a memorandum of understanding for the proposed acqusition as part of GM’s latest investment in Southeast Asia after Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.

“It will give HSB the opportunity to distribute a wide range of Chevrolet vehicles in Malaysia and to increase its market share,” said DRB-Hicom in a statement.

It said the collaboration would leverage on GM’s capabilities to be more competitive in the region. HSB is expected to start with the new distribution of GM vehicles by the fourth quarter.

It said the collaboration was also in line with the National Automotive Policy, to promote Malaysia as an automotive regional hub, focusing on niche areas.

HSB now distributes the Chevrolet Aveo, Chevrolet Optra Sedan, Chevrolet Optra-5 and Chevrolet Optra Estate.

Proton, Peugeot sign letter of intent

Proton Holdings Bhd and PSA Peugeot Citroën have signed a letter of intent to study possible co-operation between the two automobile manufacturers.

“The study, which is expected to last several months, will focus on a number of diverse areas such as product development, manufacturing, quality initiatives, vendor development, contract assembly and distribution,” said a Proton statement on Sept 18.

Proton said the areas studied would focus on offering benefits to both parties in the Asean region and elsewhere.

Proton managing director Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir and PSA Peugeot Citroën chief executive officer Jean-Martin Folz signed a letter of intent on Sept 15 in Paris, France.

PSA Peugeot Citroën’s supervisory board chairman Thierry Peugeot and Proton chairman Datuk Mohammed Azlan Hashim witnessed the signing of the letter of intent.

“The study has a number of objectives with Proton’s goal being to leverage the technological expertise of a major global automobile manufacturer in areas such as product development and quality improvement while at the same time optimising the capacity utilisation of its plants,” Proton said.

For PSA Peugeot Citroën, the agreement was in line with the group's strategy of creating dedicated co-operations with other car manufacturers.

The agreement was expected to increase sales of Peugeot and Citroën vehicles in Malaysia and serve as a foundation for developing business in Asean region.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Satria Neo debuts in Singapore

PROTON'S latest model, the Satria Neo hatchback, has made its debut it Singapore, marking the car's first foray into an overseas market.

The Satria Neo is the successor to the national car manufacturer’s popular and award winning three-door Satria model, and it is expected to continue the outstanding performance and winning characteristics of its predecessor in Singapore.

The first version of the Satria Neo to enter the republic is the 1.6-litre Hi-Line variant, available in automatic and manual transmission.

The model, which was launched in Singapore on Sept 8, is distributed and sold by Proton Singapore Pte Ltd (PS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Proton Edar Bhd.

Proton Singapore director Moses Tan said the Satria Neo, besides being stylishly designed, is much safer and has better handling than many other Asian cars in its segment.

"It is certainly comparable with its competitors originated from other countries, thus we are confident that this new model will pave the way for Proton's next generation of models to come," he said.

SPY ----> Mercedes Benz CL 63 AMG

SPY ----> Mitsubishi Colt CZ3 QS (European only)

SPY ----> Smart ForFun2 (BIGFOOT)

SPY ----> Hyundai Arnejs Concept Car

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Proton Intensifies Efforts To Penetrate Indonesia

PEKAN BARU (Sumatra), Sept 13 (Bernama) -- National carmaker, Proton Holdings Bhd, will intensify efforts to further penetrate the Indonesian market following a deal to export 52 Proton Wiras for use as airport taxis here.

The first batch of 26 Proton Wira taxis was handed over to Major Azhar Aditama, head of Puskopau Taxi, the Indonesian Air Force's cooperative which operates Pekan Baru's airport taxi services here Tuesday.

The cars were handed over at the residence of the Governor of Riau Province, H.M. Rusli Zainal, who was also present at the function. Others included Ahmad Tifli Datuk Mohad Talha, the head of Proton's export division.

The exercise, which is part of Puskopau Taxi's replacement drive, involved the purchase of up to 52 units.

The taxis would ply Pekan Baru's Sultan Syarif Qasim II Airport to the taxi centre.

As Sumatra's capital city, Pekan Baru has a sizeable expatriate population working in the oil and supporting services.

Dwi Sasetia, director of PT Proton Edar Indonesia, said the initial batch was part of a fresh export drive of 3,000 Wira taxis slated for Indonesia.

The delivery of the remaining 26 units for Puskopau will be handed over by end-September.

"The balance will be delivered in stages to other cities in Indonesia by early 2007," he told Malaysian journalists here.

Dwi said the Indonesian taxi firms could use the Proton Wira 1.5L MT in places where traffic was heavy as well as for long distance as the car was fuel-efficient and durable.

He said timing was good because of the fall in private motor vehicle sales caused mainly by the recent increase in petrol prices and more people were using public transport as they postponed car purchase.

"It's also a period when companies are replacing old taxis and expanding their fleet to meet the increase in the usage of public transportation," said Dwi.

Petrol price rose by 87.5 percent while diesel fuel rose by 104 percent in Oct 2005.

Proton is not new to Indonesia. It first introduced its Saga model into the Indonesian market in 1996.

It has a plant at the Cikarang Industrial Park, 50km east of Jakarta, with a capacity to produce 40,000 cars per year.


Proton To Kickstart Indonesian Retail Sales By Early 2007

PEKANBARU, Sept 13 (Bernama) - Proton Holdings, through its Indonesian subsidiary, PT Proton Edar Indonesia aims to kick-start its retail sales in Jakarta by the first quarter of 2007.

Proton Marketing Sdn Bhd, head of export division, Ahmad Tifli Talha said the retail sales would initially start with the Gen-2 and Waja models.

He said Proton hoped to achieve its own niche in terms of the Indonesia passenger car market share, which has a more predominant Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPVs) presence.

"Looking at the market, SUVs and MPVs are the major market but that doesn't mean there are no other segments," he told Malaysian reporters after the official handing over ceremony of the first batch of Wira models to Pusat Koperasi Angkatan Udara (Puskopau) here, Wednesday.

Puskopau is the taxi company of Indonesian Air Force's cooperative which operates at Pekanbaru airport.

However, the shipment of these Wira models are considered fleet sales in Indonesia.

Proton first entered the Indonesian market about 10 years ago with its pioneer model, Saga.

The fleet sales of the Wira signals a refreshed entry into the neighbouring market amid competitive environment, high oil prices and a saturated automotive industry.

However, Ahmad Tifli was confident of the national car maker's presence in Indonesia.

"If you study the specific A, B and C segment, where we are, there is still quite a substantial number there... we can still carve our own niche in terms of market share," he said.

As for the retail sales, he said Proton was looking to set a network of potential dealers for sales and after sales-services in Jakarta, which itself is a huge market with 29 provinces to cover.

"We are just starting in Indonesia in terms of the fleet market and retails sales... we do intend to grow this volume as we view the Asean region as an important market for us," he said.


SPY ----> Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

SPY ----> Ssangyong Actyon SUV

SPY ----> Great Wall HoverSUV (Made in China)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

SPY ----> Mitsubishi Pajero SUV

Friday, September 08, 2006

SPY ----> Renualt Nepta Concept Car

What is the main factor for you to buy a Proton Car?
Low price and no other choice due to budget
Good resale value
Low maintenance cost
Ride & Handling is good
Reliable parts, chasis and engine
Good Styling exterior & Interior
Patriotism (I support Made in Malaysia Products)
Follow others (Follow Majorities should be the best choice)