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Free Website Counters SPY the Man: January 2008

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Proton aims to repeat success story with new Saga

KUALA LUMPUR: When the first generation Proton Saga was launched 23 years ago, the nation stared in awe at the car. Just like the very first car that rolled out from the Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd factory in 1985, the new Saga, which was launched yesterday, created the same effect.

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.

Related story:
PM: New models will help Proton

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18-01-2008: Proton targets sales of 50,000 to 60,000 Saga sedan

KUALA LUMPUR : Proton Holdings Bhd targets to sell 50,000 to 60,000 units of the new Proton Saga sedan model in the country, its chairman Datuk Mohammed Azlan Hashim said.

He said the new Saga and the recently-launched Persona models would help to boost Proton’s financial performance this year.

He said the old Saga was the most popular model in the Proton family with 1.2 million units sold, and the new Saga had so far received more than 6,000 bookings even before its official launch on Jan 18.

“It has a better start than the Persona, and we are very encouraged by that,” Azlan said at a press conference after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi officially launched the new Saga sedan.

Priced between RM31,500 to RM39,998 on-the-road, the new 1.3-litre Saga is available in seven colour variants.

Azlan said the new model had similar values of its predecessor as the car is designed to be an “affordable family-size sedan”.

Besides catering to the local market, Proton wants is to export the new Saga model. “Clearly, we realised the domestic market will not be large enough to offer any manufacturer the economies of scale,” Azlan said.

As such, Proton’s plan was to produce new models that would meet both the local and international markets’ requirements, he added.

Currently, the company is looking at the possibility of exporting cars to countries within Asean, the Middle East and India.

On whether Proton has a timeframe to regain its market leadership position, in the passenger car segment, Azlan said there were no specific deadlines as an “on-going process”.

He also said Proton management was working hard to turn around the company and it was banking on the new Saga and Persona sales to boost its performance.

Proton managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Syed Mohamed Tahir said the company would invest RM400 million to RM500 million every year for research and development to roll out new models as well as to “refresh” old models.

He revealed that Proton had spent about RM460 million to come out with the new Saga model alone and was planning to refresh another two to three models this year.

According to Zainal, one of Proton’s utmost concerns in developing new models was safety.

The new Saga comes with a chassis that is 75% made of high tensile steel, which will provide passengers with a basic protection cage in order to minimise the risk of injury in case of accidents.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Proton car not in showrooms despite soft launch

PETALING JAYA: The new Proton 1.3L car, codenamed BLM, has received many enquiries from potential customers, although the model is nowhere to be seen in showrooms.

Several sales representatives said they had received bookings for the car from some customers yesterday, which was the day of the soft launch of the BLM

They said that the official unveiling and naming of the car would be held next week at Dataran Merdeka, with the Prime Minister attending.

EON Glenmarie sales representative Mohd Arif Iqbal Mohd Hanafi said that about 10 people walked into his showroom yesterday to ask about the BLM.

Most of them were interested in the automatic model, he added.

“Interest is high among the people. I even had people coming several weeks before the announcement was made, to ask about the BLM,” he said.

Mohd Arif said the BLM offered excellent value for money with “tentative” prices ranging from RM31,500 for the base “N-Line” model to RM39,500 for the upmarket “M-Line” version.

Proton had earlier said the new sedan would cost between RM30,000 and RM35,000.

Seri Mestika Sdn Bhd sales representative Muhamad Nor Shamsuddin said the people who walked in were surprised when the showroom did not have the BLM model.

“We expect sales will be brisk after the official launch, because of the attractive price structure and equipment on offer, including airbags,” he added.

Proton Edar Sdn Bhd sales consultant Effandy Zainal Abidin said the enquiries revealed that customer confidence in Proton’s automobiles had improved.

He added that most customers at his showroom at the Centre of Excellence Complex wanted a second car for their family members and decided to go for the BLM.

Engineer Mohd Helmi Abd Rahim booked the automatic version of the “M-Line” model with a RM500 fee.

“My wife and I decided to book the BLM since it is affordable and has safety features such as an airbag,” he added.

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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)