Proton Savvy or new Saga BLM will be the cheapest car in Australia?. Read the full news from Carsguide by Paul Gover below.
PROTON PRICE PUSH
Super cheap Chinese cars are under attack before they even reach Australia.
The first vehicles from Great Wall will land in the second half of the year, to be followed by Geely and others, but Proton is moving now to establish a price point.
No-one from the Malaysian maker is talking exact details, but Proton is planning to easily undercut the $13,990 Korean price fighters and is aiming for something in the $12,000 range.
It will do the job with a new model based on the baby Savvy, but price fighting will become the key for Proton when it re-positions the whole brand for 2010.
Proton boss John Startari confirms the general push but will not be drawn yet on the details. “We’re not talking about the price until closer to the date,” says Startari.
“We’re working towards January next year. It won’t beat the Chinese, but we believe that for the Proton brand to move forward we need to offer value for money and re-invigorate the brand.”
He says the new cheapie is the key but admits Proton must do better on price to ever make solid numbers in Australia. The brand has a carpark of around 25,000 here but has yet to reach critical mass, either with customers or dealers.
“We’re re-specifying all our cars. That’s Gen.2, Satria and Persona. That will happen at the same time,” Startari says. “For us, timing is everything. And we really need the range to start at an aggressive price and then have value across the spectrum. By aligning a lower-priced value leader we can meet all demands below $20,000.”
The new starter car is basically a Savvy sedan, but with an engine which grows from the current 1.2 in the Savvy hatch to a 1.6-litre Campro. It will have a new name and will not be called Saga, the badge used in Malaysia.
“It’s an all-new car. On the price side of thins, the recommended retain price will be plus on-road costs, but the advertised price will be drive-away – just as we do now with the Savvy hatch at $13,990 drive-away,” he says.
Startari will not talk about the cost of the price push, or the level of financial support from Malaysia, but admits there is a big budget.
“It will be the biggest spend on marketing in the last seven years. The initial launch budget in 1998 and 1999, when we moved away from Incape and became a factory operation, was the only one that is bigger,” Startari says.
He makes no apology for the early announcement of the new focus and says it’s not just about undercutting Korean cars or getting an early break on the Chinese.
“Right now we’re in a dealer recruitment process and we need to start talking about the future of the brand and products to get the dealers we need to take the brand forward. We need to recruit the best dealer network available, but we are not going to expand at all cost. It will be a matter of only signing dealers who are committed and eager to be a part of growing the brand.”