Excerpts from Business Times 3 Mar 2010, with my snarks in between:
Proton eyes the world
GENEVA: Proton Holdings Bhd (5304) will shift its focus towards developing cars for the world market, a departure from its 25-year philosophy of serving mostly domestic buyers.
The bigger picture is to expand its exports as the Malaysian car market is considered small.
“Proton has been building cars to meet the needs of its customers in Malaysia and then trying to export them. This led to difficulties exporting Proton cars to foreign markets because our cars that are accepted here may not be accepted by markets like Europe (due to compliance differences),” former prime minister and Proton founder and adviser Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told a news conference here on Monday, ahead of the 80th Geneva Inter-national Motor Show.
Really? Only because of ‘compliance differences’?
Thaaaaaaaaaat’s not what these Mat Sallehs say, Dr.
- Proton Satria-Neo – awful badge and ridiculous name make it a must-not-have for the youth it’s aimed at… the fact that it’s a Proton is still a seemingly insurmountable obstacle with regard to social status. The difficulty we foresee is that young people still aren’t going to buy it, but old people might be put off now too… It’s built with as much love and care as the rest of the range. By that I mean it feels like it’s been welded together out of old beer cans and recycled bottle caps.
- Proton Savvy – this is an ugly, ugly car… With uneven and unfinished edges as well as plastic sharp enough to cut your skin.
- The infamous Jeremy Clarkson on Proton Savvy –
Gotta love the snarkiness of the reviewers. They seek out cars just to savage their lousiness for the amusement of readers!
So if by ‘compliance differences’ Dr. M means ‘Proton cars did not comply with the non-suck standards of foreign buyers, I can totally concur.
Asked why Proton had waited for 25 years to refocus and restrategise, Dr Mahathir said: “We were not too ambitious at that time. We thought that for a small developing country, it was good enough that we could build a car from Malaysia. But later, we discovered that there was demand for our cars both in the US and the UK. People came to see us (to export our cars), but we had to make modifications to our cars first.“
Modifications like ‘not sucking’?
Proton chairman Datuk Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh said the small domestic car market makes it necessary for the company to look abroad to be able to reap economies of scale in production.
“Domestic sales of passenger cars are some 400,000 a year. This leaves us with no choice but to go abroad,” he said.
Blame rival Perodua for that one. Perodua beat Proton again in sales last year, despite the fact that…
Above from Malaysian Politics Motivational Posters
So do they really think that in a free market full of competition from car-makers who didn’t have the crutch of protectionism and massive bailouts, Proton will actually do better?
(For that matter, do they really think state-coddled and institution-pampered Malaysians stand an ice-cube’s chance in heck out there in the quota-less, merit-based world?)
Then again, maybe Dr. M expects to enlist the reality-altering expertise of James Cameron or something.