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Proton aims higher in Australia

Crashing through: Proton expects its new Preve, which benefits from local crash testing, will boost sales significantly when it is released here in January.

New models, big customer incentives expected to bring major sales boost for Proton

Proton logo19 Oct 2012

By TERRY MARTIN

MALAYSIAN car-maker Proton has relaunched its brand in Australia, targeting increased sales to the tune of 300 per cent and promising improved quality with its latest models – the Prevé small car and Exora people-mover – which were unveiled at the Sydney motor show this week.

The first wave of all-new or redesigned models from Proton under new parent DRB-Hicom Bhd, which bought a majority stake in the car-maker from the Malaysian government earlier this year, the Prevé and Exora will be offered with attractive prices, high equipment levels and a new ‘5 Star Service’ five-year/150,000km warranty, roadside assistance and free servicing program.

While the Prevé sedan will kick off in January from $18,990 driveaway, Proton Cars Australia has promised to introduce the seven-seat Exora wagon – which will come standard with a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine and ‘seven-speed’ CVT automatic – with sub-$30,000 driveaway pricing across the two-variant range at its mid-2013 launch.

A turbocharged Prevé GXR sports sedan is less than nine months away, and the company has committed to at least three new models – believed to include an all-new crossover/SUV and a heavily upgraded Jumbuck utility – for Australia within the next two years.

A hatchback body style for Prevé is also confirmed for release here early in 2014.

Proton sales are down 28.7 per cent to the end of September, with just 859 new registrations recorded across five models lines: Gen.2, Persona, S16, Satria and the Jumbuck ute.

The company expects sales to total about 1000 at the end of the year.

However, it has forecast 4000 sales for next year, with 70 per cent of these coming from Prevé, a model that has benefited from Australian-based crash safety testing as part of its development.

Older models that do not meet increasingly stringent Australian safety standards will be phased out during 2013, including Gen.2 and Persona.

Proton Holdings Bhd executive chairman Mohd Khamil Jamil said the new models would be seen as higher quality offerings than other budget-priced cars, including those from China.

“I know that Proton has been neglected in Australia with new models not coming, but it is my commitment to the people of Australia that these two new models – the Exora seven-seater as well as the Prevé sedan – will be arriving on the shores of Australia.,” he said.

Mr Jamil said the 5 Star Service program would also “underline the quality of the car and the endurance that the car will be able to meet the standards that are required in Australia”.

“This is the first introduction by Proton under the new ownership of DRB-Hicom and reiterates the commitment that we have for our international markets,” he said.

“You will buy Proton because it’s a Proton – because of the quality, because of the commitment that we have and because of the standards that we are going to adopt for the Proton vehicles.

“Proton used to be a cheap car because of the (previous) situation, but moving forward I think we are better off than many of the other cars that are within that segment.

“What we want to produce and what we want to commit to the Australian public is that you buy Proton because it’s a Proton – you don’t buy Proton because it’s cheap.”

Both the Prevé and Exora will be fitted standard with at least four airbags (the Prevé will have six), ABS brakes with EBD, electronic traction and stability control, four-wheel disc brakes, front seatbelt pretensioners and anti-whiplash front head restraints.

Mr Jamil would not be drawn on the specifics of other new models in the pipeline, but said: “Definitely within the next couple of years there are going to be at least three models coming out.

“Passenger vehicles, sports (utility) vehicles – but I can’t comment more on that yet.

“The Jumbuck – we are looking into that, we are looking into the development program where we can add in more excitement as well as more options for the public.”

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