Proton expects to sell some 150,000 cars in 2016

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SUBANG JAYA (Jan 14): National carmaker Proton Holdings Bhd expects to sell some 150,000 cars in 2016, as it banks on its existing, as well as four new models to be launched this year, said its chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Harith Abdullah.

"We are introducing one new model for every quarter in 2016, and banking on this, we hope our sales to breach slightly above what we booked in 2015. This year will be a truly exciting year for Proton and that is my commitment to our stakeholders," he told reporters, after witnessing the signing ceremony to appoint new Proton dealers here today.

While waiting for official and audited figures to be released by the Malaysian Automotive Association by end-January, Abdul Harith revealed that Proton sold slightly above 100,000 units in 2015.

"It is a very challenging year for Proton last year. But this year, with many things in plan, we are hoping for a transformational year, as we embark on exciting journeys," he said, while reiterating Proton's previous expectation to chalk profit by as early as financial year ending March 31, 2016 (FY16).

Meanwhile, Proton's appointment of 29 new dealers, stems from its latest collaboration with Japan's carmaker Suzuki Motor Corp.

"The 29 dealers are not new in the market. They are currently Suzuki dealers. But as Suzuki exits Malaysian market, it displays genuine commitment to make this collaboration successful, according to the agreed terms," he added.

To recap, Proton had on June 15, 2015 signed a tripartite agreement with its parent DRB-Hicom Bhd and Suzuki Motor Corp, to develop compact cars for both the local and export market.

In Malaysia, Suzuki's businesses are operated by its 40%-owned Suzuki Malaysia Automobile Sdn Bhd (SMA). DRB-Hicom owns another 40% in SMA, while Japan's Itochu Corp has the remaining 20%.

Abdul Harith added that SMA is currently in liquidation process and that it has already ceased its operation and production line in Malaysia.

With this, Abdul Harith said Proton now has access to Suzuki's talents, models, platform, powertrain and other automotive technologies.

"Suzuki has a strong technology and expertise in producing smaller engine segments, especially in the A and B segments. This would certainly complement Proton's long range product plans and the collaboration will result in maximising volume potentials, reduction in development lead time and expedite time-to-market," he said.

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