Proton has added another international market to the current Proton Saga’s portfolio when the company’s best-seller made its debut in Pakistan earlier this month.
With the addition of Pakistan, The Saga which received a significant update in 2019 is now available in eight international markets – Brunei, Bangladesh, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Mauritius, Nepal and Pakistan.
The Proton Saga line-up in Pakistan consists of three models, Saga MT, Saga AT and Saga Ace AT. Additionally, 100 units of the Proton Saga R3 Limited Edition will also be offered paired with either the MT or AT transmission.
According to Proton, a lucky draw will also be held for the Saga R3 Limited Edition where buyers are required to register their interest by 16 April to stand a chance to win one.
The Proton Saga’s launch in Pakistan which was conducted online was graced by the High Commissioner of Malaysia to Pakistan, Mr. Ikram Mohammad Ibrahim.
In his message during the launch, the High Commissioner said he hoped that Proton’s operations in Pakistan will further strengthen then economic ties between Malaysia and Pakistan.
Second model after X70
Following the launch of the Proton X70 in December last year, the Saga is the second model to be offered in the country.
Currently all vehicles are supplied from Malaysia as CBU units but the company’s partner, Al-Haj Automotive, is set to commence local assembly operations at its new plant in Karachi by the third quarter of 2021.
With a planned capacity of 25,000 units per annum, the plant will enable sales of Proton cars to grow quickly in a market brimming with growth potential.
Hilal Khan Afridi, CEO of Al-Haj Automotive, is confident that Pakistani customers will be attracted to the Proton brand and its products.
“I am thankful to our fellow Pakistanis for making the Proton Saga an instant success in Pakistan. This car will definitely stand out for its reliability, durability and value for money,” he said after the launch.
Proton X50 next
As the second quarter of 2021 kicks off, Proton is looking to increase its international market presence to achieve its long term goals.
Aside from the Saga – the volume seller in most markets, the Proton X70 and Proton X50 are also being exported to establish the company’s intelligent range of vehicles overseas.
“Exports are an important pillar for Proton and will account for an increasing percentage of our sales volume in coming years. Aside from promoting the features of our products we also leverage on the high quality reputation of Malaysia’s manufacturing sector, which lends credibility to our own product story.
In 2021, aside from exploring new opportunities, we will also ramp-up efforts to re-enter major ASEAN markets such as Thailand and Indonesia,” said Roslan Abdullah, Chief Executive Officer, Proton Edar.
Proton’s strong start to 2021 continued in March as the company posted not only a new high point for the year but also achieved its best sales month since September 2013. 14,989 units (domestic + export) were sold last month, equivalent to a 26.2% increase over February and an estimated market share of 23.5%. Overall, Proton retained second position in the sales rankings table.
For the first quarter of the year, the company achieved a cumulative sales total of 32,826 units and its highest quarterly market share figure since March 2012.
SUV sales continue to grow
Deliveries for Proton’s two SUV models continued to grow in March as the company’s new production line at Tanjung Malim increased its output for the month. 3,513 units of the Proton X50 were delivered to customers while the Proton X70 saw a month on month increase of 58.4% to 2,337 units.
When combined, it means Proton set another internal record with 5,850 SUVs delivered, beating the previous record of 4,820 units that was set just last month. The company’s top seller remains the Proton Saga and with 5,589 units delivered, sales for the A-segment sedan grew by 32.5% compared to February.
What about the other models?
The Proton Persona, Iriz and Exora also posted their best figures for the year with the evergreen MPV once again claiming the crown for highest C-segment MPV sales.
“After a soft start to the year, Malaysia’s automotive industry has finally hit its stride for 2021. We estimate TIV to be over 63,000 units, suggesting all brands will post their best numbers for the year. For Proton, March was a very good sales month as we achieved our highest figure in 90 months but our sense of achievement is tempered by the fact that it could have been even better if we were able to produce more units.
“As things stand, we still have a large order bank to fulfil so over the next few months, Proton will strive to increase production while maintaining our focus on delivering high quality products. We are also mindful that PENJANA incentives are currently due to expire by the end June, so we aim to ensure as many customers as possible are able to enjoy the tax holiday given by the government,” said Roslan Abdullah, Chief Executive Officer, Proton Edar.
In-house loan from Proton
Increase in sales helps Proton Commerce grow loan disbursements Just as sales of Proton vehicles have grown this year Proton’s in-house auto-financing subsidiary, Proton Commerce Sdn Bhd, has seen a similar increase in volume for financing of cars.
Nearly 4,000 loans were disbursed in the first three months of 2021 with an estimated 1,700 going out in March alone. The latter figure is equivalent to a 122% growth over February and overall, disbursements for the first quarter of the year are up by 141% over 2020.
February was a productive month for Proton as the brand reached market highs that had not been experienced for several years.
By delivering 11,873 units (domestic and export), Proton had its best February in over a decade equivalent to an estimated market share of 27.1%, the highest for the company since September 2013.
Proton finished the month ranked second with sales nearly doubling the January 2021 total of 5,964 units. Compared to the same month in 2020, volume has grown by 19.9% though overall, the total for the first two months of the year is still 643 units or 3.5% behind last year’s cumulative total.
With 3,345 units of the X50 delivered in February, a total of 8,141 units are now in the hands of buyers as supply slowly catches up to demand. This number is also the highest monthly volume ever achieved by an SUV in Malaysia and therefore makes the Proton X50 the best-selling SUV in its segment and overall.
Add the 1,475 units of the Proton X70 delivered in February (the highest for a C-segment SUV), and the company sold a combined total of 4,820 SUVs, its best ever performance and the most for any brand in the country.
Saga is king
The model with the highest sales however remained the Proton Saga. With 4,217 units delivered the A-segment sedan remains a popular choice amongst car buyers who value its combination of practicality, attractive design and value for money proposition. The sedan also spread its wings by being the first Proton model to go on sale in Kenya on 25 February, where it is locally assembled by Proton’s partner, Simba Corporation.
Other Proton models also performed well. The Proton Persona regained leadership in the B-segment sedan category by finishing the month with 1,818 units delivered, beating its highly acclaimed newer rivals in the process. The Proton Exora remained at the head of the C-segment MPV market while the Proton Iriz grabbed third place for B-segment hatchbacks.
This month also saw Proton launch four Special Edition models. The Proton Persona and Exora Black Edition as well as the Proton Saga and Iriz R3 Limited Edition were unveiled online on 18 February and are available in limited numbers. As of 26 February, 1,169 bookings have been placed from a total production run of just 3,500 units indicating strong interest from buyers.
Thank you PENJANA
“February continued to be a difficult month for Malaysia’s automotive industry but it turned out very well for Proton. Thanks to the efforts of the government to ensure a continuation of economic activity during the MCO, we were able to produce more cars and in so doing started to clear our backlog of orders. This is important as we need to consistently deliver on the bookings made to avoid a rush before the Penjana incentives expire at the end of June this year,” said Roslan Abdullah, CEO of Proton Edar.
After much anticipation Proton today launched not one or two, but four Special Edition models simultaneously, giving those who have been thinking of getting themselves a brand new Proton, something more exclusive and unique.
The four models were:
Proton Saga R3 Limited Edition – RM42,300
Proton Iriz R3 Limited Edition – RM52,900
Proton Persona Black Edition – RM54,700
Proton Exora Black Edition – RM67,800
Persona and Exora Black Edition
Out of the four, the first two to be unveiled the Proton Persona Black Edition as well as the Proton Exora Black Edition, which are priced at RM54,700 and RM67,800 respectively.
Designed to broaden the appeal of each model while offering more choice to customers, both the Persona Black Edition and Exora Black Edition, as the names suggest, are clad in Black exterior colour, with contrasting gold accents on the bumpers as well as the wheels.
Unfortunately, there is no new wheel design for both the Black Edition models but the colour theme is exclusive only to the two models.
Inside, both the Persona Black Edition and Exora Black Edition come with black leatherette seats, door trims, and floor console.
While the Persona is fitted with black headlining, the Exora is fitted with an overhead monitor.
Iriz and Saga R3 Limited Edition
Contrary to the Black Edition models that were all about elegance, the Proton Iriz and Saga R3 Limited Edition models were designed to celebrate Proton’s successful motorsports division.
According to Proton, the R3 badge has always been reserved for the sportiest Proton models and both the Iriz and Saga are worthy recipients of this moniker.
Each car is painted black and adorned with the distinctive R3 livery used on Proton’s R3 race cars.
While the Iriz is equipped with 16-inch R3 alloy wheels, the Saga R3 Limited Edition is equipped with 15-inch alloy wheels with matte grey finish. Further complementing the exterior package is the sporty R3 bodykit.
Inside, a unique black-yellow interior, leatherette seats and R3 carpet mats create a distinctive ambiance with sporty appeal.
If we are to compare the Proton Saga 35th Anniversary Edition with the Saga R3 Limited Edition, the only differences are the addition of the R3 Limited Edition plaque which is fitted on the boot as well as the dashboard, and the black and yellow R3 floor mat found in the R3 Limited Edition variant.
“By launching four Special Edition models today, Proton is giving its customers more choices.”
“These are products manufactured in Malaysia targeted to Malaysian car buyers and are reminders that Proton is and always will be a ‘full-service’ car manufacturer with the ability to design, develop and build our own cars from a clean sheet of paper,” said En. Roslan Abdullah, Chief Executive Officer, Proton Edar.
In light of the tremendous support received from Malaysians, Proton today announced that it will be introducing not one or two, but four Special Edition models – the Iriz, Saga, Persona, and Exora – all of which are set to be launched virtually on the 18th of February 2021 at 11am.
Malaysians will also be able to place bookings for the Special Edition models on the same date and time. According to Proton, these Special Edition models will provide the same level of comfort, safety and handling that are offered in their standard sibling models, except they have now been enhanced in the aesthetics department.
What this means is that the Special Edition variants of the Saga, Iriz, Persona, as well as the Exora will only come with cosmetic enhancements and not any sort of mechanical updates, similar to what the National carmaker did with the Saga in the form of the 35th Anniversary Edition.
On 9 July last year, Proton unveiled the Proton Saga Anniversary Edition in conjunction with its 35th anniversary. Since its first rollout in 1985 up till today, different generations of the Proton Saga can be seen everywhere in the streets of Malaysia, proving itself as a popular car model in the nation.
Regardless of this, it was still unpredicted when all 1,100 units of the Proton Saga Anniversary Edition were sold out within five days of being launched, which serves as a testament to the desirability of not only the Proton Saga, but also for special edition cars.
Proton Saga Anniversary Edition
The Saga 35th Anniversary Edition was available exclusively in black with yellow highlights on both the exterior and interior of the car, with an asking price of RM39,300, which is the same as the current Saga Premium AT after the zero sales tax rebate.
Also unveiled during the launch was the 35th Anniversary Accessories package which includes Front Skirting, Side Skirtings, Door Visors, Hood Insulator, Trunk Lid Cover and Boot Tray priced at RM2,035.
Available for purchase separately and compatible with the 2019 Saga model, the anniversary package offered significant cost savings of RM315 as purchasing the parts individually totals RM2,350.
That being said, we can expect the upcoming four Special Edition models of the Saga, Iriz, Persona, and Exora to be quite similar with the Anniversary Edition, but with different colours, themes, and enhancements.
Whether they will all be ‘Black and Yellow’ editions or something more still remains a mystery, so watch this space to see what Proton has up its sleeves this Thursday.
No thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and the second MCO, Malaysia’s automotive sales for January saw a major drop in volume for most major players.
For instance, Proton finished the month ranked second by delivering 5,964 units. This represents a sales decrease of 29.9% compared to January 2020. Market share is estimated at 18.5%, about 1.0% less compared to the same period last year. The overall figures though, are a reflection of supply not being able to meet demand rather than a reduction in bookings.
Proton Saga, the King
Leading Proton’s sales in January was of course, the Proton Saga. With 2,583 units delivered, it was the second most popular A-segment sedan in the country. The Proton X70 and Proton X50 SUV twins continued to lead the C-segment SUV and B-segment SUV (five-seat) categories, though registered units were down to 892 and 1,082 units respectively.
For the latter, a total of 4,809 units have been delivered since the official launch on 27 October last year. Other models posted similar performances.
And then we have the Proton Persona which finished second in the B-segment sedan category while the Proton Exora maintained its standing as the best-selling C-segment MPV in the country. The Proton Iriz ended January in third place for B-segment hatchbacks.
“January was a difficult month for Malaysia’s automotive industry. Hopes were high the momentum built at the end of 2020 would be carried forward especially after the announcement of PENJANA incentives remaining in place until the end of June this year. Unfortunately, the second MCO announcement put a damper on those hopes.”
100% Support to the Government
“Still, Proton as well as the rest of the industry is in full support of all measures the government has in place to control the rate of infection. The safety of all Malaysians needs to remain as the main priority and companies need to pivot in order to achieve their goals in a changed market environment,” said Roslan Abdullah, Chief Executive Officer, Proton Edar.
While Proton’s order book remains healthy with orders carried over from the end of last year, the company says that it is still working hard for supply to catch up to demand.
“Measures like the MCO have naturally affected the number of customers coming to showrooms, but we can receive bookings online helping to boost our sales. However, our supply lines have been disrupted over the last few months by the coronavirus making it difficult to ensure a steady flow of parts needed to build our cars. It’s something all car manufacturers have been facing for the past year but we are hopeful that with the arrival of a vaccine things will stabilise by the middle of the year,” said Roslan Abdullah.
A flurry of activity in December that included the beginning of CKD operations in Kenya and the launch of the Proton X70 in Pakistan saw export sales end the year with an increase of nearly 50% compared to domestic sales that grew by 8.8%.
For the coming year, the company has set itself another challenging target of doubling export sales over 2020, assuming that export activities are not overly hampered by restrictions due to the global pandemic.
Exports to power Proton’s future
While sales leadership in the domestic market will always be a main priority, the company recognises that in order to grow for the future, it needs to expand its customer base and search for sales in other countries. Charged with the task of leading the overseas expansion is Steven Xu, Proton’s director of international sales.
“Over the last two years, Proton’s international sales division has been aggressively pursuing export sales in numerous markets. We have deployed multiple strategies to achieve our goals, from shipping CBU vehicles built in Malaysia to inking agreements with local conglomerates to assemble CKD cars to benefit from local tax incentives.
“We targeted to see significant gains in 2020 but those plans were affected by Covid-19. Still, we managed to grow our export volume, enter new markets such as Kenya and even launch the Proton X50 in Brunei barely two months after its Malaysian debut so there are many positives to take in to the new calendar year,” said Steven Xu.
One of the keys to growing exports is having products that appeal to a number of different markets and to comply with the needs of the market. For instance, the Proton Saga exported in Pakistan uses a 1299cc engine instead of the bigger 1332cc motor used in Malaysia as small capacity vehicles are popular. The same model is also sold in Nepal as it was also developed with a heater, a vital component for markets with cold winter months.
The Proton X70 and Proton X50 meanwhile help to project a sophisticated brand image. Armed with advanced software, a voice command interface and a comprehensive driver assist package, both SUVs compete against rivals from Japanese and Korean brands and help define PROTON’s messaging in markets where building consumer education remains as a vital step.
“The Proton Saga remains a popular model in many countries due to its hardiness, practicality and value for money proposition but in order to lift our brand image, it is important for our newer models such as the Proton X70 and Proton X50 to also be exported. This will show car buyers what the company is capable of and help pave the way for us to sell other models in the future to fill up the range,” added Steven.
Collaborating for mutual success
While Proton’s distributors and importers in its export markets are owned by local entities, it works closely with them to ensure there is a cohesive market introduction, promotion and product launch plan to suit local market conditions.
By building a consistent brand image, the company is taking steps towards being a global entity and paving the way towards penetration in other regions in the future. As the CEO of Proton Edar, Roslan Abdullah is not only responsible for Proton’s sales volume but also for the marketing and promotion of the brand.
“By working closely with our foreign partners, we aim to present a consistent message in all our export markets and ultimately, this will make it easier for the Proton brand name to establish itself in even more countries. This is in line with our aim to promote Malaysia and its vendors on a regional and global level and ultimately, this will raise their competitiveness and benefit the economy as a whole,” he added.
As we were browsing through the internet, looking for interesting stuff to share with you on this mundane Monday, pictures of a car crash involving a vehicle that is quite popular in Malaysia started making waves in WhatsApp as well as Facebook. After having a closer look, it turns out that the vehicle is none other than the Proton X50 “Bumblebee” which went viral a few months ago.
While there were not many details on what caused the crash, the images suggest that the vehicle lost control and hit the divider along a PLUS highway last night. From what we can see, the rain and wet surface could also have played a role.
Owner is safe
On the bright side, the owner walked out of the scene unharmed. There was even a picture of him posing next to the Bumblebee on the tow truck, giving a thumbs up and bidding farewell to his beloved X50 Bumblebee. The vehicle however, has clearly taken some serious damage.
So, whether the X50 can be brought back to life shall remain a question for now.
Why is this car so famous?
Anyway, the Proton X50 “Bumblebee” actually went viral last November, which was about a month after the SUV was launched officially by Proton. While many owners were still waiting for the deliveries of their X50, the owner of this unit, who was one of the first owners in the country, went all out and spent more than RM50,000 on his X50 into the “Bumblebee” you’re looking at right here.
Since the X50 was a trending topic, almost every automotive and news portal out there featured the X50 “Bumblebee”, making it arguably the most popular X50 in Malaysia in a matter of days. In case you’re wondering what’s so special about this X50, let’s look at all the things the owner has done to the car.
On the exterior, the X50, which is a 1.5 TGDi flagship variant, features a Satin Yellow wrap, with all the chrome bits blacked out. And then we have the large brakes taken from vehicles like the Cadillac CTS-V, Michelin tyres, some funky 20-inch wheels, modified lights, as well as an upgraded exhaust system.
Inside, the Bumblebee has been fitted with a generous dose of aftermarket Alcantara upholstery on the dashboard, door panels, and the centre console. The audio system has also been upgraded. Last but not least, the owner also fitted an aftermarket tuning chip, increasing the X50’s output by 22 PS and 35 Nm of torque. So, it is safe to say that this was no way your “biasa-biasa” X50 with some cosmetic upgrades.
Whatever it is, we are glad that the owner walked away safely from the mishap.
As we embrace the new norm, many of us will be spending a considerable amount of time in our cars to commute daily to work. But is the cabin of your car truly a cleaner environment?
Even when travelling with the windows closed, the air quality inside can be affected by the air from the outside. It is therefore important for cars to be equipped with cabin air-filtering capabilities.
However, like many other parts in your car such as spark plugs and oil filters, cabin filters are one of the parts we frequently replace in our cars but we rarely talked about.
You may be surprised to learn that PROTON has equipped its entire range of cars, from the Proton X70 to the Saga, Persona, Iriz, Exora and Proton X50 with N95 Cabin Filters as an integral part of the air conditioning system.
N95 — An extra layer of protection
The biggest difference between an N95 Cabin Filter and the average dust and pollen filter is the efficiency of filtration. An N95 Cabin Filter can remove 95% of particles and contaminants that are larger than 0.3µm (microns) and 98% of PM2.5 dust particulates creating a highly efficient air purifier to filter smoke particulates, dust, bacteria and other pollutions; ensuring that the air inside the cabin remains clean.
In simple terms, for contaminants entering the car due to opening of doors & windows, the N95 Cabin Filter can eliminate bacteria as well filtering more than 80% of allergens from cats, dogs, pollen & aphid; breaking down PM 2.5 components that have adverse effects on the human body.
Proton Intelligent Air Purification System (P-IAPS)
More interesting though, is the P-IAPS in the Proton X70. To provide you with a cleaner breathing environment, the air filtration system in the Proton X70 comes factory equipped with the PROTON Intelligent Air Purification System (P-IAPS), that combines the benefits of an air purifier system and an N95 Cabin Filter.
The IAPS uses a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter that removes 99.97% of particles larger than 0.3 microns while its activated carbon removes odours, formaldehyde and adsorbs and purifies smoke particulates; whilst the ioniser discharges negative ions to cleanse the air.
By combining the Air Purifier System with the N95 Cabin Filter, the PROTON Intelligent Air Purification System (P-IAPS) acts as a barrier against contaminated air making its way into the cabin, offering a high level of protection against airborne pollutants for a cleaner and healthier environment.
And there you have it, folks, yet another reason to own a brand-new Proton car, for a cleaner cabin air quality for you and your family. If you do own a Proton and are taking it servicing soon, make sure that you’re getting an N95 Cabin Filter.
Those of you who are eagerly waiting for your X50 to arrive, rest assured that this SUV too, is fitted with the N95 Cabin Filter. At the end of the day, we’d say it’s worth the extra investment, because after all you can’t put a price tag on the wellbeing of you and your family.
Proton closed 2020 on a high with an increase in sales over its landmark performance in 2019. Despite losing over two months of car production and sales to the MCO, the company sold 109,716 vehicles for the whole of 2020 after shifting 13,306 units in December.
This 2020 total represents an increase of 8.8% over the 100,821 units sold in 2019, making Proton the only major automotive company to record growth in Malaysia. Market share for the year also increased to an estimated 21.1%, equating to a significant 4.4% increase.
The main drivers of volume growth were the Proton Persona, Iriz, Exora and Saga (PIES), while the X50 surpassed expectations despite it’s later than planned arrival. All four PIES models were extensively updated in 2019 and the investment has paid off with each model posting higher sales numbers this year despite the pandemic.
This performance combined with a 49.8% increase in export volume, allowed Proton to buck the trend of the Malaysian automotive industry which is expected to contract by an estimated 13%.
In terms of individual performance, each Proton model ended the year near the top of their respective segments. The Proton Saga remains as the company’s best-seller for 2020 while the launch of the Proton X50 and strong sales for the Proton X70 combine to make Proton the number one SUV brand in the country.
A key component in Proton’s performance for 2020 was the results of its investments in manufacturing and quality. This was both in the areas of hardware and software. Aside from technology, new processes and systems were introduced to drive an increase in capacity and precision.
This was exemplified not only with the increased volume but with the smooth introduction of the Proton X50 at the company’s new production line at Tanjung Malim, which is also the home of the Persona, Iris and X70.
The Shah Alam plant continued to better its performance, churning out record numbers of the Saga and the Exora. Of greater import was that Proton markedly improved its Global Customer Product Audit (GCPA) score demonstrating that its quality initiatives are coming to fruition. The company was able to do this despite manufacturing being the most severely impacted by the pandemic.
Despite the restrictions placed on the global movement of goods, 2020 saw a strong year for the company’s export division, with a bumper month in December. It saw the first locally assembled Proton Saga roll-off the assembly line in Kenya and then make its debut alongside the Proton X70 in Pakistan where, both models will be sold initially as CBUs but later as CKDs, when a plant in Karachi is completed later this year.
The Proton Saga also burst on to the scene in Egypt and Bangladesh but it wasn’t the only model to make a big splash overseas last month. The Proton X50 entered its first export market when it made its international debut in Brunei on 19 December, making it the fourth Proton model to be launched in the kingdom in 2020 after the Proton Persona, Iriz and Saga arrived in January.
“2020 was a real test of Proton’s mettle as we had only just begun our new trajectory. The nature of this pandemic for an organization like ours, which depends on global supply chains, put great strain on the business. However, a combination of good strategy and hard work has left us not only with an increase in sales against a decreasing market but a renewed belief in our product strategy, quality and commitment to our customers. At the same time we also saw to it that we did our part for the country, which all of us at Proton are especially proud of. We will continue to put the pedal to the metal in 2021 and strive to improve all aspects of the business”, added Dr Li Chunrong.