The Proton Persona is expected to boost the Malaysia national car maker‘s overall sales in Syria. The price range is between 800,000-850,000 Syrian pounds. Hope that this will give a better position to improve its market share in the Middle East.
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DAMASCUS, Proton Holdings Bhd is strengthening its presence in the Middle East market, with the launch of the Persona model, is expected to boost the national car maker’s overall sales in Syria to over 5,000 units in the next three to five years.
Managing Director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said though the global economy had weakened significantly, the company was optimistic it could offer a more viable option through Persona — the fifth Proton model to be introduced after Waja, Wira, Arena and Gen-2.
“We have been selling our cars in Syria since 2001 and after Gen-2, we are optimistic on how the Syrian market will accept the Persona, which has won many customers for being cost-effective with better fuel economy,” he told a media conference before the launch here, Thursday night.
Proton first entered the Syrian market via a sole distributorship agreement with a Syrian company, Modern Technology Trading Company, a subsidiary of Habbal Group of Syria.
The company, headed by Habbal Group chairman and chief executive officer Ghyath Al Habbal, holds distributorship rights for Proton cars in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
Syed Zainal said the first batch of Persona for the Syrian cluster — Syria, Iraq and Lebanon — was delivered late last year and had sold well with bookings already being made for the coming shipment via Tartus, a port town on the Mediterranean coast 220km northwest of here.
Voted “Car of the Year for Malaysia” at the Frost & Sullivan Automotive Awards for Southeast Asia last year, the price range is between 800,000-850,000 Syrian pounds.
He was confident Proton could meet its sales volume target of over 5,000 cars, including Persona, in the next three to five years, especially as the Middle East has been identified as one of the key markets in its Asian Multi-Local OEM (AMLO) strategy besides Asean, China and India.
So far, the company has sold more than 6,000 Proton cars in Syria, with more than 1,600 units last year, the highest annual sales record since 2001.
“We have always been guided by the philosophy of building the right car at the right time and at the right price.
“I believe Proton’s current offering — Persona and Gen-2 — fit the criteria,” he said, alluding to the current global recession, which gave the company an opportunity to be in a better position to improve its market share in the Middle East.
With Malaysia’s strong ties with countries in the region, he said, the Middle East was an important left-hand-drive market for Proton, expected to launch its next model line-ups — Saga by mid-year and Proton MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) by late next year.
Meanwhile, Al Habbal said a new 3S (sales, service, spare parts) service centre in Tartus will serve as a pre-delivery, inspection and parts distribution centre for the Al Habbal Group.
Currently, Proton operations are being supported by its distribution network of 10 branches and dealerships in major Syrian cities, including the US$22 million platinum service centre in Aleppo and another outlet here.
He said the Persona launch was significant to Modern Technology Trading Company as it was the second biggest event for the company after the official opening of its Damascus showroom in 2003 by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The launch was witnessed by Malaysian Ambassador to Lebanon Datuk Mohammed Ab Halim Ab Rahman, Indonesian Ambassador to Syria M. Muzammil Basyuni, Indian Ambassador to Syria Gautam Mukhopadhaya and Pakistani Ambassador to Syria Manzaq Shafik.
Last year, the model was launched in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain as part of the series of Persona launches by Proton in the Middle East.