Foreign partnership key step to ensure Proton’s restoration
KUALA LUMPUR: Identifying a foreign strategic partner (FSP) that fits well with Proton was key to ensuring that technology, market expansion and brand elevation are on the table for the national carmaker.
Malaysia Automotive Institute chief executive officer Datuk Madani Sahari said from the government’s standpoint, the move was an important step towards sustainable competitiveness and restoration of Proton’s bottomline.
He said the year-long process of announcing Proton’s FSP was carried out after consideration of all factors aimed at benefiting both Proton Holdings Bhd and China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd.
“This partnership will involve injection of funds to sustain Proton in the short term. Although the amount has not been disclosed, this injection will certainly ease Proton’s operations.”
Madani said Geely had recently launched its 01 sports utility vehicle under Lynk and Co at the Shanghai Motorshow last month.
The car, he said, was built on a modular platform, which was the result of Geely’s acquisition of Volvo.
“Proton will now have access to this modular platform which can be used for all segments.”
Proton’s capability to design “Global Small Car” for five-star NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme for Southeast Asian Countries) could further enhance both brands to gain consumer attention in an expanded regional market when coupled with Geely’s modular platform capabilities, he said.
He added that the partnership also opened the possibilities to more advanced ventures on the electrification and medium-term technologies, such as anti-fatigue devices, radar and laser sensors, artificial intelligence and other advanced driver assist systems.
This new partnership, he said, could allow Proton to consider its own credit company similar to Mercedes, BMW and Toyota to internalise the hire-purchase process and boost sales.
“It is important to note that Proton has been selling around 5,000 to 6,000 units per month, which is fourth in the country after Perodua, Honda and Toyota.”
Meanwhile, Malaysian Automotive Association president Datuk Aishah Ahmad said the joint venture was long overdue as Proton needed the financial injection.
“Proton cannot survive on its own. This partnership is better for Proton’s future. You have to be realistic as the company cannot be asking the government to rescue it all the time.
“Without the partnership, eventually, Proton may be operating poorly and this will severely impact its vendors and employees.”
She said Geely’s 49.9 per cent acquisition of Proton would bring the latter back to its glory days, thus improving the automotive industry in general.
Datuk Madani Sahari