The new Proton Saga represented more than a motor vehicle, Proton Holdings Bhd chairman Datuk Muhammed Azlan Hashim said. He said it symbolised Proton's perseverance that had paid off.
“We are no longer a mere automobile assembler. To date, we have sold about 1.2 million units of Proton Saga worldwide. We are confident that we will be able to sell between 50,000 and 60,000 units per annum,” he said at the car launch yesterday.
The latest car, which was launched by the Prime Minister, is the sixth vehicle fully developed and built ground-up by Proton after Waja, GEN.2, Savvy, Satria Neo and Persona.
This car is a further step in Proton's efforts to reinvent itself.
Proton launched its Wira replacement, the Persona, last August. Not only did that move help lift Proton's sales, it also helped return the company to the black for its second quarter ended September 2007.
Proton's financials have been steadily improving. It reported its first profit – RM3.51mil in the quarter ended Sept 30 – after five consecutive quarters of net losses, citing improved sales, especially since the launch of the Persona and better cost management.
There were questions asked whether the new models will be the one factor that will eventually help Proton to turn around. Azlan said he hoped the introduction of new models would put Proton back in the top spot in the country and serve as an impetus for the group. Proton also plans to launch another two or three replacement models this year.
“Reinventing ourselves as the market leader is a long and on-going process. We cannot give a target when we can reinvent ourselves – it’s a moving target,” Azlan said, adding that the company would maintain its annual spending of RM400mil to RM500mil on research and development.
Azlan also did not want to speculate whether the new Saga would help improve the company's profitability but expects it to improve Proton's performance.
The carmaker is now keenly pursuing efforts to enhance its export performance, given the availability of new models and product refreshers.
It is also expanding its non-manufacturing business via sales of technology and intellectual property.
PM: New models will help Proton