The Malaysian tiger – PROTON – has found a new confidence in its roar over the past two years.
PROTON needs no introduction to Malaysians but for global audiences, it was a brand kickstarted in the early 1980’s to help spearhead Malaysia’s transition from being agriculturally-based to being industrially-led. PROTON became the pride of Malaysia with exports being sent all over the world, becoming common sights in Commonwealth nations like Australia and the UK where they were well-received due to their low cost and long-life spans.
At its peak, PROTON was producing and selling around 200,000 cars per year – mostly sold in Malaysia but with global exports also driving demand. By the mid 2000’s, PROTON had fallen on hard times, a hangover from the mid 1990’s where the Asian tiger economies ran out of steam. PROTON remained at the heart of Malaysian pride, but consumers were not buying in the same way.
A new partner was required. After a lengthy search, Geely was finally chosen. Without wasting any time, both parties rolled their sleeves up and got to work immediately. Strategies were drawn up and pushed into action, engineers and designers travelled back and forth between China and Malaysia creating greater synergies, knowledge and culture were shared both ways and above all, the imminent arrival of PROTON’s first SUV, the Proton X70, that was redeveloped based on the Geely Bo Yue, got the whole country talking. Four existing PROTON models would also eventually go through a redevelopment phase and launched into the market. Now, after almost three years, the results are in. And they continue to impress.
Once the Proton X70 was launched at the end of 2018, PROTON started its turnaround in 2019. Sales figure for the entire year exceeded its target by 5%, with a total of 100,821 units sold. This was the first time PROTON crossed the 100,000 threshold since 2015, while achieving a year-on-year growth of 55.7% over 2018. Furthermore, PROTON achieved the highest sales growth amongst the top-5 automotive brands in Malaysia, capturing a market share of 16.7%, its highest since 2014.
PROTON has already had a phenomenal start in 2020. In spite of the downtrend faced by the Malaysian automobile scene in February 2020 this year, PROTON managed to record an 80% growth compared to the same month last year, registering 9,974 units in sales. This catapulted its domestic market share for the month to 23.8%, the highest it has been since August 2013. That’s 77 months ago!
The success even began earlier in January 2020, when PROTON sold 8,506 units, making it the most successful January sales in four years. Its segment-leading SUV, the Proton X70, remains as Malaysia’s most popular SUV for the second consecutive month in February. With the launch of the new 2020 Proton X70 on February 12, 7,000 bookings have been recorded to date, as Malaysians flock to showrooms nationwide to check out the added features in this latest addition.
Dr. Li Chunrong, Chief Executive Officer of PROTON, cited that the stellar performance clearly demonstrates that customers now see value in PROTON’s improved product line, with strong emphasis on technology, safety and quality. By maintaining its sales growth during these turbulent times, Dr. Li said that the team at PROTON feels more invigorated on the brand’s prospects for the rest of the year.
Today the Malaysian Tiger is regaining its strength and heading to new heights. 2020 is set to become a record year as PROTON reaches its 35th birthday, and the joint Geely-PROTON plan comes into full swing.