What should Proton do after the bailout?
Proton just received a government bailout of RM1.5 billion with certain T&C's attached and its suppliers are breathing a collective sigh of relief. But, where do they go from here? So you have a car company that: made a net profit of only RM500/car on one of its cars (Saga SV); invests RM200 million into an EV (Electric Vehicle) project with no returns (not even a car); tries to tumpang glamour by purchasing an equally ailing foreign car manufacturer, Lotus, without any discernible benefits to its own manufacturing process or to the purchased company’s bottom line.
The Satria being derided on Top Gear. Hey, bad press is still press. (Image: Top Gear)
What else is there?
It has two cars competing against each other in the B-segment and four cars in the C-segment that are not differentiated enough to make a difference. The Iriz alone has eight different configurations in manual transmission and CVT while the Suprima S, Preve, Inspira, and Exora has three configurations each. Add to that the Saga FLX and Persona have two configurations each, that’s 21 cars for a company that relies almost exclusively on the local market for profits. Based on the figures provided by Proton, the total amount of cars exported from 1986 – 2015 was only 400,000 with 3.76 million vehicles registered in Malaysia since 1985.
Yep, that's eight ways you can NOT get an Iriz.
The New Perdana
The New Perdana's silhouette. We so want this to work.
Now the new Perdana is on its way and comes in at least two variants: 2.0-litre and 2.4-litre (likely with three configurations for each). This will add another six variants to the line-up with a total of 27 kinds of cars you can choose from in the Proton catalogue.
What We Propose
Proton should take a cue from Apple and downsize its production line. Here are the cars that need to go:
- Iriz (if it looks like a Myvi, people will buy a Myvi)
- Persona (it looks older than it feels. What's the profit margins on this, seriously?)
- Preve (yeah, we all wanted this to work too...)
- Inspira (if it looks like a Lancer, people are going to get a Lancer)
Here’s the line-up we propose:
- A New Saga (it’s been eight years for goodness sake)
- Suprima (drop the S, what does it stand for anyway?)
- New Perdana (fingers crossed)
- Exora (meh)
With three specs to choose from for each, that would make a total of 12 cars. You’d save on production cost, focus your energies on four distinct segments in the car market, and you’d eliminate self-competition. That’s our thoughts anyway. Feel free to bring up this piece to Proton, or should you feel we’ve got it wrong and you’ve got a better way, leave a comment below.