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Tuesday April 23, 2013

Proton New models may be launched in next 12 months, including Perdana replacement

People looking at the Proton Preve. Proton may introduce a five-door hatchback variant of the Preve. People looking at the Proton Preve. Proton may introduce a five-door hatchback variant of the Preve.

PETALING JAYA: Proton Holdings Bhd is expected to reveal a string of announcements in the next twelve months, including the collaboration with Japanese auto giant Honda and the launch of new models.

Sources said the collaboration would be a multi-layered collaboration, which entailed not only cross-platform development, but would also allowed Proton to play a role in the global supply chain.

“Things are ongoing and moving forward, you will see more announcements in the months to come, inclusive of the introduction of the Preve hatchback,” said the source. Codenamed the P3-22A, the five-door hatchback variant of the Preve was spotted numerous times on public roads, undergoing testing with substantial parts of the car being camouflaged.

He hinted that the announcements in the future might include also the Perdana Replacement Model (PRM), long rumoured to be based on the Nissan Fuga, but that rumour was laid to rest after Proton terminated the memorandum of understanding between the national carmaker and Nissan Motor Co Ltd in March 2011.

Another source said Proton actually had plans to use the Accord chassis as the platform to develop the PRM, and this would entail some changes cosmetically for the PRM, which was targeted to be widely used as the new government official car.

The Perdana was launched in 1999, and followed by several more facelifts until 2003, but since then, there have been a void in the market for the model that would replace the aging Perdana.

“The PRM, though based on the Accord, would still entail cosmetic changes, and the engine could be based on the 2-litre Petronas engines Proton bought last year,” he said.

Proton bought the Petronas engine technology for RM63mil, and these engines were developed as part of Petronas' involvement in Formula One racing sponsorship previously.

The source said it was no secret that Honda was expanding in Malaysia, and the higher localisation Honda was pushing for would include the stamping of parts, and there were only a few companies in the country which were capable of doing so.

“It is natural for Honda to choose Proton as a partner based on the long working relationship between Honda and DRB-Hicom,” he said.

He said the PRM would not be the growth driver for Proton as volume would not be substantial, but instead it would be coming from lower capacity engine vehicle models that would drive volume and growth for Proton in the future, despite its weakening market position right now.

Proton sales continued to slide, with the national carmaker recording a 7% decline in March with sales of 11,870 units compared with 12,753 units recorded in March last year. However, it was a surge of 16% compared with the preceding month of February, which recorded 10,229 units.

It is also understood that on last Wednesday, a meeting was held between the management of both Honda, Proton and DRB-Hicom Bhd. It was revealed that this meeting had earned an extra mile towards the progress of specific areas in the Honda-Proton collaboration.

In the meantime, the national carmaker is still working on its vendor rationalisation programme to streamline the vendor network in terms of operations, especially in the quality, competency and delivery areas or QCD.

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