ProtonThe Edge as always has a very interesting and revealing interview with Proton’s managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir. The ex-Perodua man has been at Proton’s helm for about 4 years now and I think most of us agree that under his leadership Proton has taken a turn for the better.

Here are some key points in the story:

  • Chinese automaker Youngman’s Europestar brand is building a new car, engineered by Lotus. It uses components carried over from the GEN2. Lotus is being paid about US$20 million for the work, and Proton also gets licensing for this new car’s platform once it rolls out. This could be the car we saw yesterday.
  • Proton’s new model investments will be in core models. Models with lower volumes such as a Perdana replacement will be through collaborations. There is no sense in spending half a million ringgit investing in a Perdana when it will not get the kind of sales the Saga (5.5k to 6k) and Persona (3.5k to 4k) currently gets.
  • The Campro’s lifecycle will end in 2014, after of which a new engine will replace it. Proton is currently looking at two different options, but are still looking at other OEMs. They hope to decide where the new engine will come from by next year.
  • Proton will be consolidating its plants to Tanjung Malim in 3 years time. The Shah Alam plant’s land can be utilised better than its current use as it is appreciating in price now. A sale to Sime Darby?
  • The Waja replacement model will be coming next year. The Perdana will come in 2011. We will get an all-new global model to replace the Persona in 2012. That would mean the Persona will be replaced after a 5 year lifecycle (well, it’s longer actually if you consider the Persona a GEN2). Proton plans to continue a typical Japanese 5 year lifecycle for all its products, but this could go to 7 years (like premium conti lifecycles) at most.
  • The new 2012 Persona replacement model will be styled by an Italian company instead of Proton’s design team led by Azlan Othman.

Read the full interview here.