Malaysia’s carmaker Proton is confident of achieving exports of about 25,000 cars for this financial year, compared to between 17,000 and 18,000 in 2007, its Managing Director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said.
He said the entry of its latest model – Persona – in five countries after the tremendous success in the domestic market has brought in new hope for Proton, which is currently exporting its various models to 23 countries.
“In the long term, we will be rolling out more and better models. Another one coming up in March next year is our first ever MPV (multi-purpose vehicle). This will open up new horizon for us and will help to increase our export volume,” he told a media conference after the launching of the new CNG-powered Proton Persona here Tuesday.
Syed Zainal said Persona, which sold almost 55,500 in Malaysia, is currently being sold in Indonesia, Australia, Singapore and Britain, and the CNG-fitted model launched for the Thai market was a first.
He said the waiting period for Persona in Malaysia has been reduced from five months to just one month, following the increased production capacity at the Shah Alam plant where monthly roll-out has gone up to almost 9,000 in September, compared to 6,000 cars in July.
At the moment, Persona is enjoying sales between 6,000 and 7,000 units a month. Syed Zainal said that Proton’s best selling model – Saga – would enter the Thai market at the end of the year.
“We started CNG fitted cars in Thailand first and we will have all models in Malaysia fitted with NGV kits in the near future, starting with Saga for taxis,” he said.
He also said that the CKD (completely knocked down) operations for Gen2 in Iran would start by end of the year and early next year in China.
Asked about the financial crisis in the United States and its impact on Proton sales, Syed Zainal said they are mindful of the situation and closely monitoring it, especially how the financial institutions would react.
On its foray into the Japanese-manufacturers dominated Thai market which came eight months ago with the Savvy, Gen-2 and Satria Neo models, Syed Zainal said its distributor – Phranakorn Auto Sales had sold 2,057 units and was targeting 4,000 units by end of the year.
For the factory-fitted Persona CNG, which is E20 compliant and priced from 549,000 baht, he said Proton was targeting a monthly sales of 500 units.
“There is huge demand for fuel efficient cars in Thailand due to the high oil price. Although the oil price has dropped, we are confident the market will be there for the right car, at the right time and the right price,” he said.
Phranakorn Executive Director, Thawatchai Jungsanguanpornsuk said there were 31 dealers throughout the country and the number would be increased to 40 by end of the year.