KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — At its peak, four of every five cars sold in Malaysia was a Proton, but the carmaker is now in danger of slipping into third spot in sales behind Toyota and Perodua, the second national car company that has ruled the roost for over six years.
Industry sources told The Edge newspaper in an article published today that Proton saw its market share slip in December 2012 to just 17.7 per cent, with Toyota now a close third at 17.1 per cent share of passenger vehicle sales in the country.
“Perodua (Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd) is the runway market leader while Proton over the last few years has been a strong second. Now Toyota is closing in on Proton’s position,” an unnamed executive told the financial daily.
Proton is controlled by Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary’s DRB-Hicom.
Industry executives told the financial daily that Proton’s sales fell by over 11 per cent to 140,000 units from 158,000 units a year earlier, missing the company’s target of 200,000 units by a wide margin.
Proton was established by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1983 and became a poster child of the former prime minister’s industrialisation policies.
Dr Mahathir had made it patriotic to buy a Proton, but the company has seen its sales slump in the last decade due to increasing liberalisation of the Malaysian market.
In the early days, Protons were rebadged models from technical partner Mitsubishi’s older range, which provided a solid foundation for the fledgling automaker but also limited its ability to innovate.
It later succeeded in developing its own vehicle platforms independent of the Japanese carmaker but has since gone back to the practice of rebadging with the Inspira, which is based on the Mitsubishi Lancer.
Malaysians were also unhappy with being able to afford only Protons as a result of protectionist taxes and duties meant to shield the carmaker in its early years but later became indefinite.
The backlash following the relaxation of vehicle import and local assembly rules saw buyers abandon the local manufacturer for the increasingly abundant range of foreign makes.
According to The Edge, Proton’s lack of new models bar one for 2013 will also put it under added pressure this year, given the growingly competitive market.
Via Malaysia Insider