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Jumbuck's time is up

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The Jumbuck ute is into run-out in Malaysia and, with limited supplies remaining at the factory, that means the car will die within six months. But the Jumbuck is expected to live again when Proton switches the compact pickup to the back of one of its newer production cars.

"The factory is running out their stocks of parts. Once that's done, that the end of the current Jumbuck," says John Startari, managing director of Proton Australia. "The Jumbuck has been our best seller since 2003 and has worked well for us. So we'll take as many as we can get from the final production."

Startari denies the end of the Jumbuck is related in any way to a recent ANCAP crash test, which is expected to only give the Proton a two-star rating. "It's a Malaysian decision. It has nothing to do with the crash test. We haven't even seen the result yet," he says.

The original Jumbuck - the name was chosen by Australian dealers - is based on the Proton Persona four-door sedan and the product planning team is considering several choices for its successor. It has built prototypes based on almost every model in the lineup, from the baby Saga sedan to the Satria and new Exora people mover.

"The important point will be that the new car will not only be the lowest cost commercial but also amongst the safest on the road," Startari says.

He is promising everything from multiple airbags and anti-skid brakes to Lotus-tuned suspension and a passenger safety cell with much more protection than the original model.

A go-ahead on the new model is expected sometime in 2010 but Startari says there has been no decision yet. "We are working with the factory on various concepts. Once the feasibility study is done the decision will be made. It's probably going to be early next year," he says. "But nothing official has come from the factory and we cannot speculate."

The successor to today's Jumbuck will be a crucial model for Proton as, apart from Australia, it has worked well in other Asian countries where pickups are popular.

Proton also hopes it will be an export spearhead into countries where it is looking to expand, particularly in north Africa and the Middle East. "If you look at the markets where they compete, Thailand is one of the world's biggest markets and will have a major say in any future Jumbuck," says Startari. "Australia is also an important market and we've sold 5234 since the Jumbuck was introduced."

While the Jumbuck successor is still to be chosen, Proton is working on a model plan for 2010 that includes a range of vehicles from the go-faster Satria Neo R3 to the Exora MPV seven-seater.


Paul Gover
Paul Gover is a former CarsGuide contributor. During decades of experience as a motoring journalist, he has acted as chief reporter of News Corp Australia. Paul is an all-round automotive expert and specialises in motorsport.
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