Proton LHD Preve to Chile 11

We’ve reported on this news since last year, but now it’s official – Proton is reentering the Chilean market 18 years after exporting its last car, the Proton Wira, to the South American country in 1998. The national carmaker has shipped 50 left-hand drive units of the Proton Preve to the port city of San Antonio today, the first batch of the 1,000 units it hopes to sell in Chile this year.

Aside from the Preve, Proton will also sell the Exora and Saga in the country. The Preve (in Standard MT, Executive MT and Premium CVT variants) and Exora (in Standard CVT and Premium CVT variants) are set to go on sale in May, followed by the Saga (in 1.6 Standard MT and 1.6 Premium MT) in November. The estimated price is US$17,000 (RM71,089) for the Preve Premium CVT.

As previously reported, the cars will be distributed by Andes Motor, which signed a distributor agreement with Proton on July 1 last year. Proton will be the first mass market car brand to be represented by Andes, which currently deals with buses, trucks and luxury cars.

Proton has planned its reentry to the market since a free trade agreement was signed between Malaysia and Chile on February 25, 2012, granting the company a six percent exemption in import duty. “This gave us the opportunity to identify a viable marketplace for the entry of a left-hand drive market for our cars,” said Proton CEO Datuk Abdul Harith Abdullah.

The brand last sold nearly 3,000 cars in the Chilean market – which has a total industry volume of 330,000 units out of a population of 17.6 million – from 1994 to 1998. “This huge market potential is a golden opportunity for Proton in our efforts to increase our production volume and expand our sales and market presence.

“As this year is an interesting year for Proton, we are positive that this is the beginning of many more opportunities to go global, especially after we complete our current new engine programme for us to meet the more stringent regulations of European countries. We shall continue to build good cars and carry out product improvements so that we not only do better in our home turf, but improve our global presence as well,” said Abdul Harith.

Chile joins the small number of current export markets for Proton, including Australia, Indonesia, Thailand and Egypt. Chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has also stated that the company is again looking at assemble its cars in Egypt, and that the export market is very important in terms of expanding its production volume and ensuring its long-term survival.