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6 reasons why Proton still needs the tongkat after 30 years

That was thirty years ago when the first Proton Saga was launched. Pic Source: agjasinblog

Look, Tun Dr.Mahatir was much younger back then! Pic Source: agjasinblog

On this month, 30 years ago, Proton revealed the pride of the nation on four-wheels – The Proton Saga. Despite what you may think of it today, back in the day it was the it-car, the cool kid on the block.

Based on the Mitsubishi Lancer Fiore, it was baby-steps for a young nation to accelerate as a modernised country, much to the envy of its South East Asian neighbours.

Fast forward to today, multiple tall buildings, and dividing society modern infrastructure aside, our first national car brand, Proton, has been a bumpy roller coaster ride. What should’ve been a proud Malaysian brand has now found itself to be a ‘last resort’ among most Malaysians.

Their history has been tied to foreign car brands like Mitsubishi (the brand Jacky Chan is well associated with), Honda (which gave us lots of awesome Japanese cars and Type -R! ), Citroen (it should not be named, oh well…..it’s the Tiara btw) and Renault (remember the dreadful 1.8-litre engine for the Waja?). But they’ve stood on their own for quite some time, giving birth to cars like the Preve, Suprima S, Exora and the new Iriz.

So, all seems steady with this these guys, right? But tiba-tiba these fellas go and sign with Suzuki to rebadge their compact cars! (In other words, get help again lor.) 

Why does this GLC need to make a U-turn by rebadging cars from other manufacturers? Just last year, they said a firm ‘no’ to rebadging! Plus, with over 30 years in the market, why does it look like Proton just cannot stand on its own two feet?

We summarise the problems being faced by our country’s pride and joy below:

 

1. Proton is still an ikan bilis

This is Proton's size in the automotive industry of this planet

This is Proton’s size in the automotive industry of this planet

Now, Proton has two plants in Malaysia and only launched one model (Proton Iriz, btw gaiz watch this review from Autobuzz.my!) in 2014, sold 115,783 cars in Malaysia on that year. International sales-wise, the figures were depressing, with Proton selling 814 cars in Australia last year. Also, are there 11 Myvis parking outside a parking lot? That’s the same number Proton sold in the UK in 2014.

This car, named after some adult underwear in Germany, fared badly at Down Under, ops - Source: Proton

This car, named after some adult underwear in Germany, fared badly in Down Under. Oops. – Pic Source: Proton

On the other hand, brands like Toyota, Ford and Volkswagen are some of the giants in the automotive industry. They have hundreds of car plants worldwide and employ an army of staff. Each brand can churn up to 10 new car models in one year and can easily generate millions by selling millions of cars annually.

The point is Proton, which also owns UK’s Lotus Cars (Lotus sold a dismal 235 in the UK last year), is tiny in the automotive industry. The reason why Proton was once a darling in the UK (remember that Mr.Bean episode?) was because they had the direction to work closely with Mitsubishi back then.

Common, Malaysia cars used to do well. Look at the appearance in Mr Bean! Source: http://www.imcdb.org/

C’mon, Malaysia cars used to do well. Look at the appearance in Mr Bean! Source: imcdb.org

Developing a car isn’t as simple as “gimme something chun“. It involves months or years of research and development. For example in 2013, Volkswagen and Toyota were among in the top ten biggest spenders of R&D as these brands spent billions, while in Proton they received nothing from the government. Yes, according to The Star, Dr Mahathir said that Proton never received any direct cash handouts from the gomen. Over the years, it has invested its own money for research and development.

There is no way Proton can do that alone, and even by today’s standards they are struggling to do so. We explain more on why in the later points.

 

2. Their products a bit tak-boleh la 🙁

After the implementation of the dreadful GST in 2015, sales of Proton nosedived in April. What happened? Isn’t it new models such as Suprima S and Iriz suppose to elevate Proton into higher grounds? Aren’t the new Protons as good as a BMW?

Earlier, you may be wondering why Proton sales were so terrible in Europe. First thing’s first – you need to know what that there are acceptable limits for exhaust emissions in the EU continent. This is referred to as ’emission standards’.

As vehicles emit CO2 which contributes to carbon footprint, EU imposes strict emission standards by enforcing manufacturers to introduce environmental friendly vehicles. That said, the current EU standard is moving to Euro-6. Our Protons meanwhile, has its latest engine up to Euro-4. That’s slow for a ikan-bilis manufacturer like Proton.

Yes, you can't bring your Protons, think of these cutesy polar bears! Pic Source: Wikipedia

Yes, you can’t bring your Protons to Europe, think of these cutesy polar bears! Pic Source: Wikipedia

And that brings us to our next point…

 

3. Their sales margin doesn’t make sense

Worse, they are relying a lot from volume sales of lower end and older models like the Saga SV (Super Value) to make profit. Did we mention in 2014, a shocking revelation revealed that Proton made less than RM500 nett profit (!!!) for the Saga SV. For a volume seller with tiny profits is downright pathetic for Proton.

The profit for one Saga SV could be around the price of this phone. Bummer. Pic Source: XiaoMi MY

The profit for one Saga SV could be around the price of this phone. What?! Pic Source: XiaoMi MY

Proton current’s problem includes aging models such as the Satria Neo, Persona, Exora and the Saga. Consumers are not fond with models reaching the age of six or more, a problem usually not faced by big and rich manufacturers. On a more positive note, Proton will launch three new models in 2016 – the Perdana (based on the Honda Accord) as well as replacements for the Saga and Persona. This means good news to both Proton and consumers.

But here lies another problem – a fragmented product line-up (before reaching the next point, please read the various categories of cars here).

Proton is currently offering too many passenger cars, more so in the C-segment category (the Preve, Persona, Suprima S and the recently discontinued Inspira). Factoring in the other B-segment cars like the Iriz, Satria Neo and Saga, it seems Proton didn’t have much focus for a small manufacturer.

Proton offered too many models for the C-seg passenger car market. Pic Source: Proton

Another case of too many cooks spoilt the broth?

On the other side, Perodua has a smaller model lineup (the Axia, Myvi and Alza), which allows Perodua to focus on its products. More so, Perodua has better directions unlike Proton. More on that in the points below…

 

4. They seem to be steering without directions

direction1-1

Proton as we know started as a manufacturer assembling cars based from Mitsubishi models. Proton then took a step further with its first self-designed car, the Waja, followed by its first self-developed engine, the Campro. Soon afterwards, Mitsubishi walked away after realising that its apprentice could stand on its own two feet. Subsequent self-developed models from Proton continued, with the Iriz being its latest iteration.

But strangely in 2010, Proton renewed its relationship with Mitsubishi with a replication of the Mitsubishi Lancer model. Yes, replication, not ‘inspiration’. Behold – the Proton Inspira! (I still remember the cheeky tagline “Smart guys get it”).

Yup, smart guys get a replicated car! Pic Source: Gear Tinggi

Yup, smart guys get a replicated car! Pic Source: Gear Tinggi

Actually, rebadging makes sense as it relieves a tiny manufacturer like Proton from incurring cost during R&D to develop a new model. For example, Proton’s latest MOU and partnership with Suzuki will allow Proton to access Suzuki’s know-hows and technology, especially when it comes in making small compact cars. They’re probably a lil jealous seeing Perodua enjoy brisk sales of the Perodua Axia.

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Even our International Trade & Industry minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, said this on why they approached Honda for the Perdana replacement model.

“It costs no less than US$500 million (RM1.6 billion) in research and development to create a new car, and if you just talking about 4,000 to 5,000 units in production volume, that does not justify the cost.”

Throughout three decades, Proton signed a number of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with various manufacturers across the globe. This includes collaborations with giants such as Volkswagen and building electric cars. As summarized by Carlist.my, the majority of the MOUs and deals went south.

gonneee

MOUs here and there, but mana result???

Meanwhile, DRB-Hicom (the current owners of Proton) is just another GLC we all familiar with… something like MAS. Since 2012, Proton continued to make losses and remained a second fiddle to Perodua for almost a decade. Apart from pumping money, perhaps what’s more concerning is that DRB-Hicom seems to be clueless with Proton.

drb

Even Jon Snow couldn’t help Proton coz, by the end of Season 5 of Game of Thrones, Jon had….

Case in point, take a look on how recent Proton cars were marketed. Was the Preve marketed as a global car? If so why it was not sold in Europe? (Answers at no.2 btw!) Did we hear correctly the Suprima S was supposed to be Proton’s game changer? If so, then why was Iriz called the game changer as well? The Suprima S was among the worst selling cars in Australia last year, so it’s more ‘game over’ if you asked us.

Ok, u gaiz muz be konfuse!

Ok, u gaiz muz be konfuse at this point!

As Proton’s “Saga” sounded dramatic enough or your head already “spinning around” after knowing the directions Proton had embarked up to this point, this shows that this company has no firm directions.

 

5. They just can’t change what people think of them

Public perception remains as Proton’s Achilles heel despite much effort by DRB-Hicom to fix that. The problems in Proton cars ranged from faulty power windows, poor quality control and many more that haunted Malaysians over the past three decades.

The latest article from the Star showed that Proton’s quality control in the past was done by checking one car out of the 40 cars assembled. (?!!!) That explains their horrendous quality in the past although this is no longer the case today. However, such actions has hurt Proton’s reputation quite a fair bit.

Look around on social media and automotive sites and the complaints on Proton alone will drive Proton’s PR staff crazy.

Probably this is how Proton's PR execs feel when seing the complains of Proton carsl

Probably this is how Proton’s PR execs feel when seeing the complains of Proton cars

Mention the word “Proton” and insults may emerge on consumers’ minds: Malaysians are still reluctant to fork their hard earned money for a Proton. The tough competition by non-national brands by offering products for an additional RM100-200 per month more in monthly payments have also resulted in Malaysians choosing cars like Honda City over the Proton Preve.

This is what Malaysians do when someone recommends a Proton!

Malaysians run away from new Protons when it comes to buying new cars

To make it worse, Malaysians are among the biggest complainers in this region (and probably, on this planet) and this will not help Proton’s current position despite the massive improvement as seen in recent products. Compounding the facts that cars in Malaysia is among the most expensive in this country and seeing their foreign counterparts enjoy good cars at affordable prices have made Malaysians hate Proton even more.

While we know the battle of perception can’t be won overnight, the rapid pace of foreign competitors that are eating out Proton’s market share in Malaysia could mean disaster. It’s also made worse by its younger cousin, Perodua. Not only does it have a steady focus on giving affordable and quality cars to the masses, it also has a better perception from Malaysians.

It’s also a deadly chain of actions:

poor perception -> sales lost -> no money for new product development -> no products -> company bleed losses -> get bailed out by gomen using taxpayers money

 

asian-crying

 

6.  They keep getting the political ‘tongkat’!

Our country used to have affordable cars, where it takes 14 months of fresh grad salary of the 80s (approx RM1,000++)  to buy the cheapest Japanese car – the Mazda 323, which sold at RM13,927. Now, it takes almost a whopping 44 months of a freshie’s salary (approx RM2,500) to buy the equivalent of the 323, the Mazda 3 at RM108,000! Meanwhile, it takes approx 1.5 years of the current fresh grad pay to buy the cheapest Proton in the market, the Saga SV manual.

Well, don’t blame inflation. Ridiculous tax duties on non-national brands somehow made Proton an undisputed champion for value.

nationalcarmotiva

Malaysia National Car in a Nutshell!

Just like any GLC in Malaysia, political interference is unavoidable in Proton’s case. As we know it, our government offered the “tongkat” to Proton while development for public transportation system was ignored. This led to the masses having little to no choice but to settle for a Proton to move around. Over the years, Proton became complacent and turned a blind eye on the quality of its products.

It was also political pressure and the resistance of foreign control on a Malaysian GLC that ended the long-winded talks between Proton and Volkswagen; not once but twice!

Should Proton forgo national pride and get taken over by an automotive giant such as Volkswagen (VW), Proton would’ve benefited from gaining access to VW’s myriad of technologies. Case in point, Skoda. Once the “Proton” in Czech, it was VW’s Midas touch that turned Skoda into a desirable car brand in the UK. That said, VW would like to replicate Skoda’s success to Proton. Just too bad our political pressure prevented it, otherwise we would have been driving a Proton Golf or Proton Kumbang now (Beetle if you don’t get it).

Dam, we are inches away from having Proton Kumbang on our roads!

Dam, we were inches away from having Proton Kumbang on our roads!

Uncommon among GLCs in Malaysia are bailouts from the government. While Proton has yet to receive bailouts the size of Perwaja or MAS, they do receive some research and development grants every year, as per the quote below:

We have been previously positive on Proton going into private hands in DRB but the low-hanging fruit in cost cutting has not materialised and we believe it will be loss making if not for the RM200mil in government R&D grants received every year

Strangely, that report appeared to be questionable as a few months after that report was made,  Proton Chairman, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, revealed that Proton didn’t receive a single cent from the government and wants the government to pump billions to Proton to be competitive. So what gives?

n a way, this sounds suspicious to us

In a way, this sounds suspicious to us

If that’s not enough, Dr M, Proton’s founder and current Chairman, is still at the helm of his beloved baby. Dr M’s influence can be felt in the automotive industry, as seen in his latest sarcastic attack on liberalising the automotive industry. This effectively means Proton will always remain under the control of the 90-year old Chairman. No one in Malaysia has forgotten his political strength in this country, and with DRB-Hicom on board, Proton will remain stuck with the political entanglement for the years to come.

But at least he’s like a test driver to Proton before a new Proton model is released. For a 90-year old who has some “petrolhead” in his veins, that’s impressive.

Deal with it, TDM style!

TDM stays with Proton, whether you like it or not!

 

 

But we really, really, really want Proton to make it 

Now Proton is like a small ship with no destination, made worse by having an incompetent crew with no idea on what they’re doing. To complicate things, that ship is lead by an overambitious captain who is treating his ship like that particular tune from this hit tune. Not forgetting, this lonely ship is sailing at the similar path for almost three decades while other ships had gone big and even belonging to another bigger fleet.

Is this a sinking ship or not? Well, that’s up to you to decide….

While Proton is a brand loved or loathe by Malaysians, here’s a reminder that Proton cars have been a part of our lives as Malaysians. From traveling with family members while singing “Balik Kampung” in a Proton Wira during the Raya Holidays; a guy impressing his date in a Proton Putra; and opening the driver’s door to pay the toll at LDP.

In fact, we’ll have goosebumps to see a Proton Satria GTI in an angmoh land rather than seeing a Buggati Veyron in Bangsar.

Which do you prefer to see? A Proton in overseas or Veyron in Bangsar? Pic source Petrolblog & Exoticspotter

Which do you prefer to see? A Proton in overseas or Veyron in Bangsar? Pic source Petrolblog & Exoticspotter

As much as it sounds, we don’t want Proton to fail but at the same time, we don’t want our hard-earned tax money to bail out Proton as well. Let’s forsake the ‘tongkat’ from Proton and let it walk by itself. As Perodua has proven it can stand by alone, there’s hope Proton will follow suit.

If the future Protons can make this man happy, consider it a success. Pic Source: Top Gear

If the future Protons can make this man happy, consider it a success. Pic Source: Top Gear

10 Comments

  1. Blah

    28/07/2015 at 12:07 am

    Should really proof read the article as there are many grammatical errors that make it difficult to understand.

  2. trav da man

    27/07/2015 at 9:45 pm

    Aero & ruffstuff,

    First of all, thanks for your feedbacks. I can understand from your point of view and I would think the same with you all should someone else write this. After writing this, I remain firm with the points I made in this article. The Proton of today somehow couldn’t deserve the support it deserves.

    We have seen Proton tried their best on improving its products, but sadly it couldn’t deserve the recognization it deserves, up to the point it merely scored 3 out of 5 star from a generous foreign media review. By looking deeper, Proton’s problems aren’t hard to identify but to recommend a solution will be tricky given Proton’s unpredictability. No one predicted Suzuki would come into the picture.

    But taken the unpredictability out of the picture, Proton for sure needs economies of scale to survive and with that exports will be critical. Proton knows it can’t rely on our tiny Mysian market.

    I drew comparisons with Perodua and I’m not surprised to see Perodua did better on the 4 out of 6 points made here compared to Proton. Perodua has a consistent direction, became obedient with its Japanese partner, scores better in surveys and perception comparing to Proton, and most importantly lacked political interference. If there’s one constructive criticism I can make, I would hope Proton learn a thing or two from Perodua.

    Regardless, among the six points made, if there’s one I’m selecting to be Proton’s no 1 priority, that will be “direction”. The company seems lost its direction even till this day. Should Proton found its footing and worked hard on it, perhaps Mysians will turn its perception from negative to a positive one, hopefully mimicking the success stories such as Hyundai and Kia.

    TDM and Proton fanboys may not be agreeing with me on this, but I think in the current tough automotive world climate, Proton would be better if being owned by a foreign giant rather than standing alone. We missed that golden opportunity a decade ago, but I guess it’s not too late for foreign ownership.

    In the end, I would personally be delighted to see Mysians regain their perception to buy Protons. But in this current situation where Proton is at a crossroad, it’s hard.

    • Aero

      31/07/2015 at 8:05 pm

      Hi Travis, thanks for replying, and courteously at that. A courteous response deserves a courteous reply, and likewise, I will reciprocate courteously. I can accept that, in your honest opinion, you believe that Proton doesn’t deserve the support (what kind ? moral ? monetary ? I’m guessing the latter is what you meant) that it gets… but I’ll still have to disagree; that’s my opinion of course, and you certainly don’t have to accept or agree with it either. There’s no right and wrong in this debate, only degrees of relativity.

      I think now is the time Proton deserves the most amount of support, whether it’s simple words of encouragement or the purchase of their products. But there are conditions to be met if Proton wants our support; Proton must continue to improve with each and every subsequent product and buck up on their exports.

      So far so good then, we seem to agree on those two aspects… on the surface at least. You gave the argument where a Proton scored only 3 out of 5 starts in a foreign review; I’m guessing you’re talking about the Prevé and Suprima S in Australia, which got mediocre reviews and sold terribly. Now, it will be easy to say that Proton failed and it’s their fault for falling sales and poor reviews, but is it ? I don’t think so; while much of what was highlighted, like the jerky CVT, poorly designed and built interior, lack of refinement and harsh ride quality is very true, almost all of it can be traced back to a lack of capital rather than a lack of expertise on Proton’s behalf.

      First, the Punch CVT; yes, it’s not very good, and Proton knew it when they paired it with the Saga FLX in 2011. But Proton has improved it so much in the last 3 years, it’s hard to believe; just drive a Saga FLX 1.3 CVT and a Iriz 1.3 CVT and experience for yourself how much has changed. While even the Iriz’s CVT is still not up to par with the competition (especially the Honda Jazz), it’s very much acceptable considering the circumstances. What Proton wouldn’t tell us is that they would very much love to throw out the Punch CVTs and get a better vendor for their automatics, but they just don’t have vast cash reserves to splurge on the best gearboxes. They are on their own, and they have to manage with what they have. The Iriz was developed at a fraction of the cost of any of its competitors, and yet it is very much capable and only needs a better CVT. The Iriz 1.6 manual is hard to fault, especially for the price. But if fewer and fewer Malaysians buy Protons each passing year, Proton will have even lesser capital to work with, less money to spend on R&D and continued improvements. The automotive industry is a high-cost one and all this while, things have not become any less costly for all the car companies out there.

      It’s truly a chicken and egg situation. Malaysians don’t want to buy Protons because they’re not very good, but Proton cannot become very good either if Malaysians don’t buy their cars. It’s the sad truth.

      The poorly designed and built interior from the Prevé has been noted and rectified as of the Iriz too, but perhaps some of Proton’s vendors have yet to achieve the required levels of refinement for their interior panels and fittings. Speaking of Proton’s vendors, again, Proton doesn’t have much choice when it comes to their vendors, they cannot afford to partner up with demanding or high-cost vendors. But Proton has been rationalising their partner companies (weeding out the strong from the weak) over the last few years and it shows with the Iriz. Unlike the Preve with its multitude of quality issues like the headlamp blow-outs, gear shift lever cover which breaks off and whatnot, the Iriz, which is also the first model to be designed under DRB-HICOM’s ownership has FAR LESS quality issues, and although there are still a few, I will not deny, it is very much an improvement over the Prevé, which is as it is, an improvement over the horribly unreliable Gen-2 and Waja before it.

      As for the Australian media comments on harsh ride quality, the answer is brutally simple; Proton cars are designed for Malaysian road conditions and not Australian ones. The solution is even simpler; Proton only needs to fine tune the chassis of their Australian-market Protons to match Australian tastes and conditions. To do that, they will need to have a local R&D division in Australia (like how Hyundai does with Australia and the EU), but that means Proton must sell enough cars in Australia to justify the cost… and that’s why they haven’t done it yet. However, they have done it in the past for their UK-market Protons, so it’s nothing new to Proton.

      Lastly, some reviews made mention about the high fuel consumption of the CamPro Turbo engines; this I will not deny, absolutely none of Proton’s engines can hold up to the competition. And as you’ve very clearly pointed out in the article, the CamPro engines are not green enough to pass the high Euro 6 emission standard, which is why Proton couldn’t export their Prevé / Suprima to the UK as they promised earlier. But once more, this is a case of a lack of capital and not expertise. The cost of developing a new engine, with a combination of direct injection, turbocharging, supercharging and cylinder deactivation, or all of them together will rocket well above RM1 billion. Note that Proton developed the Iriz all by themselves for only RM600 million or so, the Waja meanwhile costed well over RM1 billion to develop (and it wasn’t even that good !). Imagine what Proton could achieve if they had the cash resources, the last of which were squandered on the poorly designed, marketed and built Protons during the ambitious, but rubbish Tengku Mahaleel era at Proton. The Syed Zainal Abidin era was far more realistic in its heading; for once, Proton started to make cars MALAYSIANS WANTED (Persona, new Saga, Exora, Prevé) and not cars Proton wanted (overly sporty ‘mini-Lotus’ cars which handled well but were terrible everywhere else). It’s a real shame Syed Zainal left, some say, not on his own will, but we’ll never know for sure.

      Which brings us to the Suzuki tie up. This, to me, didn’t come as a huge surprise… but I didn’t quite expect it either. The success of the Axia has proven that in today’s Malaysia, small is big (that is, big money). The problem is, Proton doesn’t have a A-segment Axia rival, to develop one on their own would take around 3 years, by then it would be much too late. The quick solution would be that Proton rebadges a proven design, likely to be the Suzuki Alto or Celerio, which will allow them to cut short development time by a third or so. If their new A-segment car sells well, then Proton will be able to build up their cash reserves, which they can then use to fund the future development of their A-segment successor (after the Suzuki). This is EXACTLY what happened with the older Mitsubishi-based Protons, yet few Malaysians seem to see the full picture. Most seem to think that Proton is going to full-on rebadge Suzuki cars from now on, a return to the old ways of business; this is far from the truth. Why should Proton full-time rebadge cars again when they have proven they can do it all on their own now ? The Suzuki partnership is purely a marriage of convenience; Proton gets a new model very quickly, and Suzuki expands into our market. Proton will likely continue to design their own volume-sellers all by themselves, like the Saga, Exora, Prevé and Iriz. After Proton has made up for their lost sales and have built up their cash reserves, they can part from Suzuki and carry on as usual. But right now, the situation is desperate, and they need to buy some time while they work on their new Saga replacement. Proton can only do so much at a time, unlike Perodua which only has 3 models to care about.

      Despite all the u-turns and policy changes, I do think Proton has some ‘direction’; they are very much trying to make their cars more refined and less problematic as a means to improve their shaky brand perception. To me, that is their ultimate challenge, if Proton can prove that their cars are at least as well built and as safe as the Koreans, they have some hope of genuine success. Speaking about safety, Proton has been maintaining their ‘direction’ on safety for a while now, ever since the Prevé scored Malaysia’s first 5-star ANCAP rating (something Perodua has yet to match, and doesn’t really care to match if I’m honest). Safety is synonymous with quality, and if it’s any indication that Proton really wants to prove they are capable of producing quality cars, look no further than the newer Protons. Best of all, they aren’t stopping at just 5-stars, Proton is developing high tier safety equipment as we speak like autonomous braking/ city stop, lane watch, sign recognition and whatnot, safety features which are already gaining ground in the US and EU, but barely heard of in Malaysia. For a small, cash-strapped, struggling and unloved company like Proton, this is a very, VERY commendable ‘direction’ and easily their strongest and most relevant USP ever, which works hand-in-hand with their long proven ‘Lotus Ride & Handling’ USP.

      I think it’ll be better if Proton is bought over by a foreign company too. But that means cronies will instantly lose a ‘valuable source’ of their bloated income… simply put, it’s not a choice Proton can make, it’s all politics, as you’ve mentioned. Believe me when I say that most Proton employees are normal people like you and me, but they are being suppressed and plundered for political gain. Does anyone really think Proton wants a new Perdana ? Why should they waste money rebadging a Honda which will end up costing over RM100k, more than some very popular cars like the City, Vios and whatnot ? Tell me, if you have RM100k, which would you rather buy; a City, Altis or a rebadged Honda Accord ? Want the answer ? Look at the Inspira, it was an amazing car and incredible value for money, yet it was a commercial failure. Malaysians don’t like seeing a Proton badge on their ‘favourite’ Japanese cars, it’s as simple as that. Why should Proton build a car few Malaysians will end up buying ? Why ? Well it’s simple, cause our beloved BN officers want shiny new cars and are getting bored of their old Perdana V6s. Yay. So what happens then ? Syed Mokhtar, who owns both Honda Malaysia and DRB-HICOM, which owns Proton says “Hey, why not ask Honda Malaysia to fit Proton badges to their old Accord at their Melaka factory ?” Honda Japan wins, Honda Malaysia wins, BN wins, Syed Mokhtar wins, semua pun win… but who gets 101% of the blame ? Our dear Proton, of course. My guess is, Proton didn’t have a choice at all, they knew that Malaysians were going to hate Proton even more for rebadging their ‘favourite’ Accord, and they had to go with it either way. Now Proton has no other choice but to spend millions developing the phase two, 2016 Perdana (P4-28B) which will probably sell as well as the Inspira, all just to save face, for something they probably had no control over.

      I always like to quote this; What do you do when you have weeds growing in your garden ? Do you just cut them (the easy way), or do you pull and dig them out altogether (the hard way) ? If you cut the weed, it will grow back after a few days, but if you dig them out, they will never come back again. Similarly, shutting Proton down (cutting the weed) will not solve anything, BN will just ‘grow back’ and find other ways to screw with the rakyat. The ‘root’, no pun intended, of the problem is not Proton itself, never was and never will be, the root of the problem is our beloved BN. Why can’t Malaysians understand that ? Why do we love to hate Proton ? They’re just the messenger in the full picture, not the enemy.

      I come back to my original point, I feel that it’s not wrong to support Proton, and being a Proton supporter doesn’t automatically make you a BN supporter. It’s fine if you wish to criticise Proton constructively, but purely hate-driven comments will not solve anything for anyone. Like the employees at Proton, I do not expect Malaysians to support Proton, but I do welcome it, and I do appreciate if Malaysians can be more empathetical and understanding when it comes to passing judgement on Proton. It would be sad to see Proton laid to rest, when they’re THIS close, the closest they’ve ever been to making a car which can hold its own, all things considered. Proton doesn’t have to match Hyundai-Kia, word for word, even if Proton can achieve 1/3 of what the Koreans have, because we’re a smaller country, the economic effects will be felt just as strong. But the future will not be dictated by the Koreans, the future is firmly in the hands of the countless Chinese car companies, the question is simply a matter of when, and Proton is already out of time.

      I do not wish to direct this rather long comment to you personally, Trav, I don’t wish to come off as rude or overbearing in this debate. I feel that this long comment is necessary because it adds context for other readers and addresses many key issues regarding Proton. There’s no one way to look at something, there’s always another perspective.

      Thank you for reading.

    • Travis Chang

      03/08/2015 at 9:35 am

      Man, you just wrote an essay and I’m intrigued by it. Meanwhile, just to clear things up, I would buy the Suprima S should it ditches the CVT for a 6-speed automatic and perhaps retune for better FC. But that’s another separate topic to discuss.

      In a way, judging from the way you wrote on a num of motoring sites, my advice to you – start writing to online motoring sites to apply as a writer. Trust me, I think the industry values someone insightful like you. You never know one day I will write a feedback to your motoring column! Good luck and my best wishes to you.

  3. ruffstuff

    27/07/2015 at 1:04 pm

    Nothing new in the article except bashing Proton. Just want to comment on the poll selection, even i support Proton, I do not want to support Proton just because #sokongbuatanMalaysia

    This is where we all failed for malaysian to support Proton because of it’s malaysian. For me, i support them if the product is good. They showed they can improved with the recent few models, this is where my support start. I do not support them when they messed up back then.

  4. Aero

    27/07/2015 at 12:23 pm

    Not sure what you’re trying to prove here; if it’s supposed to be solutions, you haven’t given any. If it’s supposed to be satirical, it’s not very funny. But I know this isn’t a politically motivated swing at Proton (like the ones Malaysia Chronicle love doing every now and then), so I’m left to conclude that this article is meant to troll people like me, and feed the fire, haters and bigots. If yes, then you’ve very much succeeded… hope it’s worth it. Your last line just invalidated EVERYTHING prior; since when Perodua was ‘alone’ ? I hope that was a typo, and I’m guessing it is, seeing how lazily put together this article is; recycled, copy & pasted age old stories and oh-so-original comments from God knows how many years back, and on top of it all, failing to recognise Proton’s recent achievements nor the faults in their supposedly ‘perfect’ competitors. I’ve read Hans’ many articles and although he is very constructively critical of Proton, there’s a level of professionalism and objectivity for the most part, and I even found Chris Wee’s controversial Proton article very, VERY reasonable… but I’m afraid I cannot say the same about your work. Sorry.

  5. disqus_UmAeusDr8p

    27/07/2015 at 12:33 am

    Great article but a multitude of grammatical errors…

  6. Rewarp

    26/07/2015 at 1:36 am

    To be honest, I will only take note when they release an electric vehicle. Until then, Proton is dead to me.

    • trav da man

      26/07/2015 at 1:44 pm

      To be honest, I’m not sure if Malaysians are ready to fork say RM80-100K for an electric Proton Saga or Iriz.

    • Rewarp

      26/07/2015 at 11:17 pm

      As the article indicated, Proton is basically an uncompetitive, innovation-starved, practising entity. The only thing going for them is the price, artificially made attractive through tariffs.

      Literally the only thing that will make me care about them is if they release an electric model.

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