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Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed has defended Proton’s decision to rebadge the eighth-gen Honda Accord for its Proton Perdana, saying that the low volume does not justify the huge costs needed to develop a whole new car, reports The Malay Mail.

“It costs no less than US$500 million (RM1.6 billion) in research and development to create a new car, and if you’re just talking about 4,000 to 5,000 units in production volume, that does not justify the cost. For business considerations, it is better to adopt existing (car) models,” he said during question time in Parliament.

He was responding to Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Moktar Radin’s supplementary question, who claimed it was the norm for Proton to simply adopt Japanese technology instead of developing their own cars.

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“It is true that the (Perdana’s) engine is from Japan, but as it is, 32% of the car is made from local content and it is assembled at a plant in Melaka. It is not true to say there is no Malaysian car,” Mustapa was quoted as saying.

The MITI minister also told Parliament that Proton and Honda are currently in a series of talks to explore possible collaborations including technology, the introduction of a new line of products as well as platform sharing, Bernama reports. He said the collaborations are set to involve more Proton engineers and local automotive suppliers, working towards achieving higher customer satisfaction.

“(Translated) In line with Proton’s goal to produce new models with high quality and the latest technology, the series of talks will, amongst others, include a model-sharing programme. This is expected to help Proton save investment costs and shorten the development time for a new model,” he said in response to a question by Hulu Langat MP Dr Che Rosli Che Mat.

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Che Rosli also asked if Proton could maintain affordable pricing of its products, to which Mustapa said the government does not interfere, seeing as Proton is privately owned by DRB-Hicom. The national carmaker has the right to set their own prices, but the ministry will keep monitoring prices, he said.

The first-gen Proton Perdana was produced from 1995 to 2010, based on the early-1990s’ Mitsubishi Eterna. Towards the end of its life cycle the model became significantly dated, necessitating a replacement, especially one that was fit for government use.

Following the signing of a collaboration agreement with Honda in 2012, Proton unveiled the new Perdana in December last year. The car, based on the previous-gen Honda Accord, is currently only for the use of civil servants and the government, and just 3,000 units will be built.

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According to the national news agency, 1,000 units of the 2.0E and 700 units of the 2.4P have been produced so far. The 2.4P is for the use of ministers, local governments and officers of Jusa A grade and up. The Prime Minister travels in a stretched version, with the government crest in the middle section and below it, a distinctive shoulder line dip.

The Perdana that the public can buy will be introduced in 2016, Mustapa said. DRB-Hicom Group MD Datuk Seri Khamil Jamil told us some time back that the public-use Perdana will have a completely new interior and exterior – we wonder if that’s still going to happen.

The lease pricing of the cars was also divulged in another report – the stretched Perdana versions for the prime minister and deputy prime minister cost RM295,000 each, and it was reported that the government would be leasing the Perdana 2.4 Executive and 2.0 Standard at RM3,284.84 and RM2,892.32 per month respectively. The report also mentioned that in March 2013, the Perak state government bought 12 Proton Perdanas, at a price of RM115,000 each.

Proton Perdana 2.4P

Unveiling and hand-over ceremony on December 11, 2013

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