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Proton Preve to lead bid for change

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    Proton has a disastrous stop-start history in Australia and admits it needs radical change to build confidence in the brand.

Proton's $18,990 Preve is part of the brand's last shot at success in Australia.

The Malaysian maker is trying to haul itself out of the bargain basement using a mid-sized Preve with a value price and a five-year care package that sets a new standard in Australia.

The Preve is on sale from January at $18,990 driveaway and will be followed by the Evora people mover in June. Both cars have a new ‘Five Star’ support package that runs to a five-year warranty, five-year roadside assist and five years of free servicing and Proton is also aiming for a five-star ANCAP safety score.

But Proton has a disastrous stop-start history in Australia and admits it needs to change radically to build some confidence and support for the brand. Its sales this year are down by more than 20 per cent, even from a miserable base of less than 1000 sales by October 2011, at just 760 cars. And the Preve, even with a push direct from Proton chief Datuk Jamil, will struggle with a 1.6-litre engine in a field that includes the impressive Mazda6, Ford Mondeo and more than a dozen others.

"You have to put the peg in the sand and say this is our new starting point," Proton Australia's general manager of sales and marketing, Billy Falconer, tells Carsguide. "I wouldn't say it's the last chance but we've had re-launches before. What we want to do is reassure people."

The Preve is a major change of direction for Proton, which has always exported baby cars developed for its Malaysian base. It looks good but the engine is underwhelming and the rest of the package - even with Lotus suspension tuning - is not going to win people across from mainstream brands. But Falconer is talking positive about the car and the new approach.

"It's been a long time coming. We've excited about it. I think the Preve is a better offer than the S16 at $11,990," he says. "Yes, it's the lowest price in the class. But price is not what we'll sell on going forward. With a five-year package we're showing we're supporting the brand.

The Exora is a good looking seven-seater that will be priced around $25,000 on the road and Falconer says there are more newcomers for Proton by 2015. "We're not happy at all with our sales, but at the end of the day we've had no new models for three years. Now there are three other new models with two years."

The Preve and Evora were previewed at the Australian International Motor Show, where Proton chief Jamil was optimistic about the future. "We think that, in Australia, the demand for mid-size sedan cars like this is very popular," he says. "In terms of projection we are looking at about 200 to 240 cars a month."

That means an ambitious sales target of 2500 in the first year, rising to 4000. But Jamil says Proton is not renewing its efforts in Australia just to save face, or to lose money. "It's no point of us doing good numbers but losing money at the end of it. At the end of the day, it's the top and bottom line that matters very much to the company. Its not just about selling cars, it's about maintaining your name and your brand.

 

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 8 comments

  • This brand is doomed in Australia unless they can sort out their parts logistics. I've had one for a few months. I got it serviced and the car was away three days waiting for a bolt to be delivered. The crank angle sensor went last week, will be lucky to see it back this week. They should have kept with the Lancer engine.

    Burnt Posted on 31 July 2013 9:33pm
  • DRB Hicom you need a fresh approach to sell Proton cars in Australia. You have no Web site support or proton parts support. You better fix it seriously if you are going to have a chance to sell your cars. From what I see from PrevĂ© so far there seems to be a failure. it should be the number one selling car in Australia! I requested brochures and test drive not once but twice from the Proton Australia websites but no response until last week. 5 months to reply me? You need to hire someone who sleeps and breathes and and knows the Malaysian market and has driven the proton cars themselves. How many of your team in Australia actually went out and bought a proton car themselves? or they are only driving it because you gave it for free? I lived in Malaysia for 10 years, drove Proton Saga's and have seen and driven all your your models and have even purchased a Proton car in Australia. What you need to do is get your act together and get spare parts that are cheap and car servicing that is cheap and drive your car price as low as possible to get market share even if you make a loss! Hire me and I will get you results. Otherwise I can tell you now don't bother with the Exora release

    marcel dimoski of Australia Posted on 25 May 2013 12:40pm
  • DRB Hicom you need a fresh approach to sell Proton cars in Australia. You have no Web site support or proton parts support. You better fix it seriously if you are going to have a chance to sell your cars. From what I see from PrevĂ© so far there seems to be a failure. it should be the number one selling car in Australia! I requested brochures and test drive not once but twice from the Proton Australia websites but no response until last week. 5 months to reply me? You need to hire someone who sleeps and breathes and and knows the Malaysian market and has driven the proton cars themselves. How many of your team in Australia actually went out and bought a proton car themselves? or they are only driving it because you gave it for free? I lived in Malaysia for 10 years, drove Proton Saga's and have seen and driven all your your models and have even purchased a Proton car in Australia. What you need to do is get your act together and get spare parts that are cheap and car servicing that is cheap and drive your car price as low as possible to get market share even if you make a loss! Hire me and I will get you results. Otherwise I can tell you now don't bother with the Exora release

    marcel dimoski of Australia Posted on 25 May 2013 12:40pm
  • Until Proton puts someone from this market in charge of product, they will continue to fail here. This car is badly underpowered with the same 80 KW Comparo engine that is used in most of its vehicles. This isnt Malaysia. In a market where a Renault Megane of the same weight is considered insipid with 103 KW and struggles for mainstream traction, despite far better fit and finish, Proton continues to serve up the same lethargic powerplant for every model above 1100kg. This car needs around 110 KW just to get on the page. Its far too heavy and Proton has a well deserved reputation for poor build quality. It didnt help their cause that on an episode of Top Gear, a door seal came off as the door was opened by Richard Hammond on a Satria. Its hard to take a company seriously that continues to misjudge the market so badly. Build better engines. Make the interiors and build quality better. Have regular model updates that are relevant to the market. Do proper market research and develop product that is properly targeted, like Great Wall did. Don't turn up at the world's most competitive new car market with third rate product and expect to be taken seriously. It wont happen.

    Christopher James of Melbourne Posted on 21 April 2013 11:11am
  • So I hear there is also a car called the Proton Inspira which is near identical to the Mitsubishi Lancer. This car is quite cheap overseas, and looks like it would handle well with all those Lotus tweaks. Are we expecting that any time soon?

    Jonathon of Adelaide Posted on 27 March 2013 10:24pm
  • The Inspira should be the car leading the charge. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton_Inspira This is already in production and seems like a better alternative. Albiet its another Lancer clone as well, but at least its closer to the Mitsu specs and much cheaper.

    Saul of Gold Coast Posted on 27 March 2013 11:08am
  • I have owned a Gen 2 H-Line for 6 years. It has never let me down cheap to run still looks good and drives fine. A bit of road noise but shes done 185,000 and no trouble. It has been an excellent car, certainly not a BMW but I've got my monies worth and intend on giving it to my son and buying a Preve. You get what you pay for. A friend of mine bought a European Badge brand car for $60,000 and has just been told it needs a motor rebuild at 100,000.

    Bernard Lawry of Melbourne Posted on 08 March 2013 4:32pm
  • proton are good cars. its perhaps the parts makers tht are letting bad quality parts through to production. If this is tightened up it will make or break proton Australia. The BLM saga first edition had no guts. it was perhaps too late to win over people to BLM MkII as the first version made peoples mind up.The Savvy is a good car but like I said the parts and perhaps engineering let it down. bearing problems and road noise let it down. too sporty but excellent ride and performance and economy. Personally I love the cars as the parts are cheap if you order online or go to malaysia ad get your parts from president ace sdn bhd or Hup send eng in Kota kinabalua sabah. Drive shafts USD75 each. other parts also cheap. As I have mention before the marketing of the proton and its strategy in australia has let it down. So much can be done to promote this brand but it only has a slide picture on Foxtel to promote it. its time to spend big on a commercial to sell its product. And Like i said before. make me the boss in charge of something to sell this badge. it deserves more. Hire me and see if I can get results. I am very confident of Proton. you have Petronas and F1 technology, lotus!

    marceldimoski@yahoo.co.uk of Sabah malaysia now. in oz dec 7th Posted on 04 December 2012 2:18pm
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