With Malaysia undergoing a strict lock down to lower Covid-19 infections, retail operations of automotive companies have been curtailed with showrooms required to remain shut.
Although this is expected to affect Total-Industry-Volume (TIV) for the next few months, Proton announced that it remains optimistic about sales, thanks to the recent performance of its international sales division.
Best export sales since March 2013
In May 2021, 669 units were delivered to overseas distributors, resulting in the company having its best export sales month since March 2013, a gap of 98 months.
Up to the end of May, the total Year-To-Date (YTD) volume is at 174% of the target set and only 6% behind what was achieved for the whole of 2020.
Proton’s growth in export sales has been powered by growing demand in several key markets, some new and some having sold Protons for decades. For example, Pakistan is a new market for the company but for the first five months of 2021, it was by far the best performer.
On the other hand, Brunei which started selling Proton vehicles in 1987, was the third biggest export market by volume this year and in May, importers PAD Motors had the best sales month in company history.
Not to be outdone Alpha Ezz El-Arab, the importer and distributor for Proton cars in Egypt, has already received 350 units this year, making it Proton’s second largest export market.
With sales also growing domestically, assembly of Proton models in its export markets is vital for the company to achieve its long-term goals. Following the commencement of local assembly for the Proton Saga in Kenya, the next market to assemble cars locally will be Pakistan.
“If everything goes to plan our partner in Pakistan, Al-Haj Automotive will begin assembly operations with the Proton Saga by the end of July or early August at its new plant in Karachi. The Proton X70 will be added to their production line later, and we have high hopes this development will spur sales growth in the South Asian region,” added Steven Xu.
While growing sales in export markets is a reassuring sign of wider acceptance of the Proton brand and its products, the key to achieving the company’s long-term goals remains sales growth in ASEAN.
The region is hotly contested with many global brands having invested in production facilities that supply local and export markets as well as competition from locally grown manufacturers.
Return to Thailand, Indonesia
Currently, Proton’s presence in ASEAN is limited to Brunei but the company has plans to return to the two biggest markets in the region, Thailand and Indonesia, in the very near future. “For Proton to be the third best-selling brand in ASEAN, we need to have a major presence in Thailand and Indonesia.”
As the biggest automotive markets in the region they offer enormous volume potential, but the level of competition is also very high. For both countries, we have been busy recruiting partners to build a network that ensures a viable business model and in the short term, our target is to return to Thailand in 2022,” said Steven Xu.