This year is a big one for Proton, as it promises to turnaround a not-so-encouraging 2015. The national carmaker sold just slightly over 100,000 units last year, a bit under the 115k units that rolled off dealerships in 2014 – which is “not very good,” according to Proton CEO Datuk Abdul Harith Abdullah.

As such, the company is renewing its resolve by introducing new products and an improved aftersales experience for the brand. Leading the charge are four new models – the three which we know about are of course the Perdana, Persona and Saga sedans, with one more jointly developed by Proton and Suzuki.

The D-segment Perdana, based on the eighth-gen Honda Accord, will be launched in the first quarter, while the Iriz-based Persona – Proton’s renewed entry to the popular B-segment sedan market that will fight the Toyota Vios, Honda City and Mazda 2 Sedan – will arrive later. After that will come the Saga, still based on the current model but heavily revised, which will form the bottom end of Proton’s new product range.

The relative unknown will be the new Proton-Suzuki model that is expected to arrive before the end of the year – no details have been revealed of the new car just yet, but it’s a safe bet that it will be a new A-segment hatch to fill a void in the company’s lineup. A rebadged Alto or Celerio, perhaps?


Harith said that these new models will have “state of the art technology and safety standards, yet are affordably priced.” According to him, it is important get these products ready “with good technology and good quality,” all while maintaining a competitive price position for the brand.

Chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reiterated that Proton will continue to stick to existing model names like the Perdana, Persona and Saga, adding that it will follow the example of the likes of Toyota and Honda by building new models but retaining names that have a history and identity tied to it.

To develop the new models, Proton has spent a total of RM2.2 billion in capital expenditure over the last two years, including the research and development as well as on building new engines. Previously, chief technical officer Abdul Rashid Musa said that the company is looking to replace its ageing CamPro engines with a new range of direct-injected 1.3 and 1.5 litre engines in both turbocharged and naturally-aspirated forms.

Next comes aftersales, a known weak point for the brand. Proton acknowledges this, and Harith promises an improvement in the area – moving forward, the company will only add 3S and 4S dealers to its sales and service network.


With the recent addition of 29 former Suzuki dealerships as part of the Proton-Suzuki collaboration, Proton’s network of 1+1S, 2S and 3S centres has now swelled to 105, which Harith says will provide Proton with a solid dealer network to support the new models.

Proton is also planning to fill up capacity at its under-utilised Tanjung Malim and Shah Alam plants, which are capable of producing up to 300,000 cars annually. The company is targeting to build 150,000 cars this year – a 50% increase in sales is a bold claim, but we shall see how it goes throughout the year.

Lastly, Proton will be looking to bolster its brand value and confidence, with better aftersales service and the assurance of Suzuki technology coming to its models. With the collaboration with the Japanese small car expert, the brand is hoping to finally put itself on a new level against its competitors.

Overall, Proton has a bullish outlook for the year ahead, and while we still aren’t placing our bets just yet, with a string of new models coming soon, it’s understandable why confidence is running high. “We are very confident that 2016 will be a much better year – a new turning point for Proton,” Harith said.