See More on Facebook

Business

Malaysia’s Proton revs up revival with hot-selling SUV

The X70, a fully imported version of Geely’s Boyue, makes up over half of national carmaker’s sales.


Written by

Updated: March 27, 2019

Once-ailing Malaysian carmaker Proton is seeing a turn in its fortunes since its Chinese partner Geely brought the X70 sport utility vehicle to the Malaysian market last December.

The X70 – a rebadged version of Geely’s Boyue – now makes up over half of Proton’s sales, with more than 20,000 cars booked as at end-February and waiting times extending up to three months.

“Our next target will be to set new six-month and full-year registration numbers, and we are confident of achieving them,” Proton chief executive Li Chunrong said in a statement last Wednesday. The national carmaker did not give details of these targets.

Automotive analysts say the positive response to the X70 indicates a probable turnaround of fortunes for Proton, but they caution that it is the automaker’s ability to deliver top-notch locally assembled cars that will determine its future.

“The true test will be to build a local version of the car and compete with Perodua on fairer ground,” said one analyst, referring to Malaysia’s other national carmaker which leads the local market in total vehicle sales.

Proton is already expanding its plant in Perak to cope with producing new car models and upgrading its service centres nationwide.

Buyers of the X70 say it is priced considerably lower than similar SUVs in the compact segment.

“It’s a Proton car but it’s also not really a Proton car at the same time. There’s a different expectation for the X70,” said Mr Alexander Teoh, 40, a human resources manager.

The X70’s starting price is RM99,800 (S$33,200), with its highest-range model costing RM123,800. Similar cars from other brands retail at over RM10,000 more than the X70’s premium range.

In June 2017, when Geely acquired a 49.9 per cent stake in Proton – the balance is held by local conglomerate DRB-Hicom – the move was severely criticised by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Proton was Dr Mahathir’s brainchild during his first stint as prime minister from 1981 to 2003, and he described the 2017 deal brokered by the Najib Razak administration as bad for the country.

“I am sure Proton will do well… but I cannot be proud of the success of something that does not belong to me or my country,” he said then.

At the launch of the X70 last December, however, the 93-year-old statesman who is now serving his second stint as Prime Minister praised the collaboration with Geely.

“Maybe after this, the cars will be conceptualised, designed, tested and built as a truly, 100 per cent Malaysian car in the future… this can be achieved with Proton’s cooperation with Geely,” he was quoted as saying in the New Straits Times.

Proton ranked fourth in total vehicle sales last year, behind Perodua, Honda and Toyota. Its 2018 sales stood at 64,744 units, more than a quarter of Perodua’s total.

The automotive analyst said: “Perodua will continue to lead for the next few years and that’s understandable. Proton’s problems go deep and they need time to resolve these.”

In 2017, the government revealed that Proton had received over RM15 billion in financial assistance since 1984, with most of the funds used to cover its losses from poor sales and high costs.

Geely’s entry is expected to turn things around.

Another automotive analyst said the technology injection into Proton is more advanced than what is available in the current Malaysian market and could help the carmaker expand its market share.

Mr Li told automotive blog Paultan.org last December: “Proton will enter segments with potential that it wasn’t represented in before this. Our goal is singular: to improve Proton’s condition and restore it to its respected position.”



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Business

Xi-Trump meeting a welcome relief for Huawei

The company has been under pressure due to US sanctions. One of the most encouraging signs that emerged from the meeting between President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka on Saturday was the softening of Trump’s stance on the sanctions the US administration had imposed on Chinese telecommunications equipment provider Huawei. Trump said US companies can continue selling telecom components to Huawei. If US companies indeed continue selling telecom components to Huawei, it will come as a big relief to the world at a time when the international community fears the “technology decoupling” of world’s largest and second-largest economies could undermine global technological development, especially the commercialization of 5G technology, in which Huawei is a leading global player. Previously the US administration was reportedly mulling


By China Daily
July 2, 2019

Business

Union votes in favor of terms proposed by EVA Air; strike to end

The strikes have led to hundreds of flight cancellations. Members of the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union (TFAU) on June 29 voted in favor of terms and conditions proposed by EVA Airways to end a 10-day strike that had led to around 1,000 flights being canceled and an estimated 180,000 passengers affected. TFAU is expected to sign an agreement with the airline at a ceremony in Taoyuan City Hall to be presided over by government officials and lawyers representing the two sides later that day, officially ending the strike. A silver lining emerged Thursday in the standoff between the striking flight attendants as the union compromised on their three core demands — raising their overseas daily allowance, appointing a labor representative on the company’s board, and reserving some benefits only for union members. EVA Air Chairman Steve Lin in turn assured the union Friday that the company will not


By Cod Satrusayang
July 1, 2019

Business

FedEx sues US Commerce Department over crackdown on Huawei

US courier delivery company FedEx on Monday sued the US Department of Commerce over a request that the package giant enforce restrictions on Chinese telecom equipment provider Huawei. In the lawsuit filed in the US District Court in the District of Columbia, FedEx claimed that department’s latest measures to restrict the business activities of US companies with Huawei “place an unreasonable burden on FedEx to police the millions of shipments that transit our network every day.” “FedEx is a transportation company, not a law enforcement agency,” FedEx said in a statement. The department in May added Huawei and its affiliates to an “entity list,” a move that under Export Administration Regulations (EAR) barred US companies from supplying the Chinese company with parts such as electronic chips or providing other technologies without US government approval. Th


By China Daily
June 27, 2019

Business

Putin says US’ Huawei stance aims to contain

Huawei has come under increasing pressure from the US and its allies. The United States was seeking to contain China’s development when it took action against Chinese telecom giant Huawei, and it is doing the same thing to Russia, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin who made the comment during his annual televised Q&A with the Russian people on Thursday. He said the US had targeted Huawei because China has become the US’ rival. “Let’s take the attack on Huawei: where did it come from and what is the reason behind it? The only reason is to contain the development of China who has become a global rival to another global power-the United States,” Putin said. The Russian president said the West has no interest in changing its attitude toward Russia, and therefore Moscow will not compromise on its fundamental national interests in the face of sanctions.


By China Daily
June 24, 2019

Business

Huawei CEO holds dialogue with US tech experts

The company has come under pressure after the US singled the company out for possible espionage for Beijing. Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei had a discussion with two American technological gurus, George Gilder and Nicholas Negroponte, at the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen on Monday. Ren said he believes the artificial intelligence industry is a driving force for human society, and people need to be inclusive and not regard AI as “negative” future technology. Ren said that Huawei has been committed to business ethics and compliance with laws and regulations since the company was started. “Huawei didn’t, and w


By China Daily
June 19, 2019

Business

Vietnam to be among world’s most dynamic markets by 2030

The country has reached amazing levels of progress in the last two decades. With an emerging market economy and continued strong growth, Vietnam is set to become one of the most dynamic markets in the world by 2030, according to Euromonitor International, a global market research company. An Hodgson, Euromonitor International’s income and expenditure research manager, said the company’s research database showed that urbanisation, with the associated concentration of income, wealth and population, would propel Việt Nam’s commercial success by 2030. Published last month, the research database has found that Vietnam will be the third biggest urban market by consumer numbers and fifth biggest by total spending in Southeast Asia. By 2030, the country’s urban consumer market will expand to 46 million consumers and $169 billion worth of spending. GDP growth is expected to rea


By Viet Nam News
June 13, 2019