Are you still here?
Apparently, Proton is – and it’s about to relieve that uncertainty
Malaysian market, and has new management at home to back the drive and end the perception that the company is just part of the country’s public service.
The newcomer is the Preve. It will be in showrooms in September with a starting price that should be about $18,000.
Proton Cars Australia says the Preve will be a rival to the Kia Cerato and Hyundai i30. It will follow the baby Exora people-mover, taking over from underwhelming efforts including the S16 and – despite strong sales – the compact Jumbuck ute.
It still comes with only a 1.6-litre starter engine, although there is also a turbo version of the small four.
‘‘ No, it’s not our last chance,’’ Proton boss John Startari says.
‘‘ This is the start of a new product range and a new position for the company.
‘‘ There’s never been a time when the company has been able to compete on an even footing in the Australian market in terms of specification, features and safety (of our vehicles).’’
Proton has no four- or fivestar ANCAP cars in Australia. It also has been selling cars with engines too small for the local market.
Startari says this is changing and the company’s new management, under the DRBHicom conglomerate, is providing extra drive.
Proton is a blip on the Australian sales charts, delivering 379 cars to the end of April, a 23.7 per cent slide from 2011. Even though the Jumbuck is officially gone from its brochures, it is still the best seller with 111 deliveries.
‘‘ We’ve got Exora coming, which is a new segment for us and will fill a void from Jumbuck. Jumbuck had a niche of its own and it’s the same for Exora, because no one else has a small people-mover.
‘‘ Then we’re looking at a hatch version of the Preve in 2013, as well as vehicles in other segments. But I cannot talk about that yet.’’
People-mover and shaker: The compact Exora will take Proton into anew market segment