We’ve seen and heard plenty of Proton’s upcoming A- and B-segment sedans, the new Saga and new Persona. But what about the sedan that will go head-to-head with the Protons, the sedan that market leader Perodua is planning?

It’s typical of the Rawang-based carmaker to keep plans under wraps until the final moments, when things are already finalised; and company bosses are very guarded when quizzed by journalists, with the usual smile, non-committal answer and “tunggulah” by president and CEO Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh. The same questions have been met with the same answers at P2 press conferences for years now. It’s a big contrast from how things are done over at Proton.

As the Malay saying goes, diam-diam ubi berisi, and this piece of ubi should be pretty heavy. Till now, no timeline has been officially offered with regards to the sedan’s market launch, but now, mentions of the “Perodua Sedan” have appeared in stock research reports.

Maybank Investment Bank’s research report on major Perodua stakeholder MBM Resources Bhd (MBMR) predicts a “tale of two halves” for the stock, where the second half of 2016 will be boosted by the launch of Perodua’s first sedan. Besides having a direct stake in P2, MBMR distributes Perodua cars via DMM Sales, and is also a major shareholder in P2 vendors Autoliv Hirotako and wheel-maker Oriental Metal Industries.

The same research house also mentioned the Perodua sedan in a note on leather upholstery supplier Pecca Group Bhd, which appeared in The Edge Financial Daily. The key catalyst for Pecca’s financial year 2017 growth would be contribution from the Perodua sedan, Maybank Investment Bank said.

“We expect this model to be priced from RM32,000 to RM40,000 range to compete with Proton Saga, which accounted for about 40,000 to 45,000 units in market size in 2015. In our projection for MBMR, we expect Perodua to sell 15,000 units of the sedan model in 2016, beginning August — conservative in our view — and 30,000 units in 2017,” it added.

So, the second half of 2016 and more specifically, August 2016, would be when Perodua’s first sedan surfaces, according to the analysts. This would throw it in the same arena, at the same time, as Proton’s new Saga and new Persona sedans, if the latter’s plans aren’t beset by the usual delays.

What we know for sure is that the design of the sedan will be led by Perodua, as it’s not based on any current Daihatsu model. The in-house upper body design will sit on a proven Daihatsu platform, while engines will be from the Japanese company’s stable (Daihatsu now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota, share exchange will be completed in August).

Proton is readying not one, but two compact sedans for 2H 2016; from L-R: new Saga, new Persona

“Based on our more than 20 years of partnership, Daihatsu has allowed Perodua to be more involved in the design and development of our vehicles. In this process there has been transfer of technical and engineering knowledge as well as transfer of technologies,” Aminar told at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show.

“We would like to leverage on Daihatsu’s more than 100 years of experience in the automotive industry to remain relevant and competitive,” he added, affirming the relationship between Perodua and its Japanese partner. Daihatsu has a 20% stake in Perodua and more significant shareholding in the manufacturing side of P2’s business.

Perodua having a growing design role in local models is nothing new, and is a continuation of the trend from the Myvi and Axia. It is something that Daihatsu encourages, too. “Having the car’s upper body designed by Perodua will create a better product that suits the Malaysian market,” Daihatsu Motor Company’s senior managing executive officer Shigeharu Toda told us at the same TMS 2015 function.

It will be an interesting second half for the industry and Malaysian car buying public, that’s for sure. May the best local sedan win.

GALLERY: Perodua Buddyz Concept from KLIMS 13

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