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Amidst ever-strengthening competition from foreign brands, Proton and Perodua should complement each other rather than compete against each other, Perodua president and CEO Datuk Aminar Rashid has said.

“Our position is that national makes should have significant market share, about 60%,” he told the press at today’s official launch of the Akashi Kikai plant in Sendayan Tech Valley, near Seremban. “It will be good for the whole industry, we should complement each other rather than compete.”

Yesterday, Proton announced a tie-up with Suzuki to develop a compact car for the former – widely believed to become Proton’s first A-segment car, which is of course Perodua’s stomping ground. But Perodua recently announced it is developing its first sedan, leading many to speculate competition with Proton’s Saga, and fuelling the notion of the former further eating into the latter’s market share. “At the end of the day, consumers make the choice. Perodua is just fulfilling the market demand,” was his response.

Last year, for the first time ever, Proton and Perodua’s combined market share (46.8%) fell below that of foreign carmakers. Despite P2 remaining market leader by a comfortable margin (29.4%), the foreign onslaught has shaken the company into its transformation journey, which it has said it has embarked on since 2011.

This transformation, Perodua chairman Tan Sri Asmat Kamaludin said last October, encompasses production, product, R&D, procurement and customer satisfaction initiatives, with the aim of making Perodua products and services on par or better than those of other established brands. Among the results are the hot-selling new Axia, Energy Efficient Vehicle incentives and the Daihatsu Kyushu-mirroring Perodua Global Manufacturing plant.

As incredulous as it may sound, the Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) and several research reports expect Proton and Perodua to recover lost market share this year and close the sales gap with foreign brands, if not even regain dominance. Will it happen?