KUALA LUMPUR (July 12): Proton Holdings Bhd has sent of a shipment of 453 Proton cars to Aqaba, Jordan, which will then be distributed to Iraq and other neighbouring countries as the Malaysian automotive manufacturer returned to the export scene in the Middle East for the first time since formalizing its partnership with China-based Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Geely).
In a news release today, Proton said the enthusiasm for the cars is such that there are even active owner clubs in the region, despite the slow-down in exports over the past few years.
Proton’s deputy chief executive officer Datuk Radzaif Mohamed said in a symbolic flag-off ceremony held at Westports Malaysia’s berthing area that the event marked a starting point for Proton, as the company resumes and ramps up shipments to the Middle East in the coming months.
“It’s also the first export shipment since the partnership with Geely commenced and we expect our export market to have a positive outlook in the future, so be prepared for more such announcements from as early as August this year,” Radzaif added.
His confidence in Proton’s ability to grow its export market is backed by improvement to its product quality.
In the statement, Proton said the global customer product audit (GCPA) system has been implemented on its production processes, resulting in a threefold improvement in the number of registered demerit points.
As at end June this year, the GCPA score for Proton was 1,763 demerit points, with a year-end target of 1,500. In comparison, Geely and Volvo, which also use GCPA, have their current scores at 1,200 and 850 points respectively.
“Proton has always strived to produce high-quality products for our domestic and export markets, but the collaboration with Geely has introduced a new quality mindset, along with a shared quality audit system that is also used by Volvo. Using it as a roadmap, we have managed to lower our demerit points threefold as we aim to deliver ever better cars to our customers,” Radzaif noted.
Dr Li Chunrong, Chief Executive Officer of Proton, who was also present at the ceremony, said demand for cars in the Middle East will grow as their economies develop, helping to fuel the growth of the automaker’s export business.
“The Asean market however will remain as the main priority for Proton’s export business, so we are excited about the opportunities available in the region,” Li said.
The company is exploring all opportunities to grow export volumes for Proton and Geely is making a big effort to support Proton in improving its car sales outside Malaysia, he added.
Proton is 50.1% owned by DRB-Hicom Bhd and 49.9% by Geely.