Last week, we picked up a report from Business Times that said Volkswagen AG had earmarked the Polo for Proton to remodel, and that Proton’s Polo will be priced below RM70,000.
Quoting insider sources, the report even mentioned where the proposal was made (Hong Kong) and who was involved (VW’s Head of Commercial Operations China/ASEAN Soh Wei Ming and DRB-Hicom’s chief operating officer, Datuk Lukman Ibrahim).
At yesterday’s unveiling of the CKD Volkswagen Passat in Pekan, DRB-Hicom’s Group MD Datuk Seri Mohd Khamil Jamil rubbished talks of Proton rebadging VW models. DRB-Hicom is of course the new owner of national carmaker Proton, and counts VW as partner and biggest customer of its Pekan facility.
“The reports got me by surprise,” Khamil said. “Rebadging was never in our plans. If we want to develop the national auto industry, we got to move forward. Rebadging is taking a step backwards,” he said, adding that “short term pains, but long term gains” is needed for Proton.
“I may have to eat my words someday, but as long as I’m in charge, I will never allow that [rebadging] to happen,” he stated firmly.
However, no rebadging doesn’t mean that Proton, a small carmaker in the grand scheme of things, needs to do it all alone, for Khamil believes that Proton needs a reputable OEM as partner.
So there you go, erase that RM70k “Proton Sago” from your mind!