I just got back from Proton’s Centre of Excellence, Shah Alam, where the national car company unveiled the official logo of its 25th anniversary, kicking off silver jubilee celebrations that will go on throughout this year. Proton has lined up a spread of contests, events and activities that will involve all stakeholders, including customers, the media, and since it’s a national car company – the Malaysian public.
Internally, there’s this logo design competition, which won Rosaidatul Nor bt Rosli RM5,000, and “special gift sets” to 651 pioneer employees who have been with the company since day one. For the public, there will be a Saga Snap & Win photo contest, which will offer RM25,000 cash to a snapper with the most sentimental and/or inspiring image of the Proton’s first car or the new Saga. I’m looking forward to throw my name in the hat with pictures of my rusty but trusty 1992 Saga.
Proton will also organise a charity road show of 125 cars from the 11 official Proton car clubs. Called “Jelajah Amal 1Proton 1Malaysia” the convoy will tour the nation with a shipping container transformed into a Mobile Technology Exhibition Unit. Dato’ Haji Syed Zainal, Proton’s MD, said that since not everyone can visit Proton, “we’ll bring the factory and R&D to the people”. Perhaps they’ll bring the EMAS concept car for its first Malaysian tour. Who knows? In addition, there will be a charity fund where RM25 from each car sold will be channelled to 25 worthy organisations.
All this leads up to a gala dinner on the 9th of July, where Proton will launch 25th Anniversary special editions of the Saga, Persona and Exora, limited to 25 units each. What do we know now? Not much except that the cars will carry a “tiger” theme based on the animal’s “powerful, brave and elegant” characteristics. A 5,000 issue commemorative coffee table book will also be launched on that date, which is the date the first Saga rolled off the line in 1985. Over 3.3 million Protons have been made since then.
At the event, Dato’ Syed Zainal gave a rousing speech saying that “every time we had to swallow a bitter pill, we emerge stronger,” adding that the company’s current hurdle is to compete in the international environment. “Times have changed, customers have changed, and we need to adapt. It is time for us to evolve from local hero to a full-fledged global and competitive automotive player,” he said.
He also revealed Proton’s growth targets for this year, which is to achieve 6 to 7% growth in this financial year and double exports. The company is aiming at a 70:30 domestic export ratio, from the current 75:25, and is looking at China, India, Middle East and of course ASEAN to provide the export growth.