Sunday, April 29, 2007

New Proton Gen2 sedan. More of the same.

Below are a couple sneak peeks at Proton's upcoming Gen2 sedan. I've commented quite a bit on the problem with Proton... one of which is their obsession with a single, narrow market segment.

And at a time when the market at Proton's price range is clamouring for space maximised mini-MPVs (Perodua Myvi) and flat floor, short bonnet large cabin sedans (Honda City and Toyota Vios), Proton still insists on launching one cramped sub-compact after another.

Besides the Perdana... aren't all of Proton's models more or less the same thing? And don't they cannibalise each other and raise Proton's costs unnecessarily due to all the different chassis, engines of different makes, body panels and components being used? To me, Proton has only a single product offering ie. a sub-compact, with sedan and hatch variants. The worse thing is that they've gone to great lengths to make life difficult for itself in terms of the huge, unrelated number of parts used - which imho was done solely to increase the number of parts they needed to stock and develop, thereby printing money for their politically connected suppliers.

Credit for Gen2 sedan photos: sizzlingnoodles

New Gen2 sedan, Waja, Wira and Iswara/Saga... it's the same 4 door sub-compact sedan with 1.3-1.8 liter engines. Best thing is, they are ALL being sold at the same time, to the same people. A better managed car company would have phased out the older models before introducing the newer ones, so that cannibalisation is minimised in order to maximise the volume of the higher margin new models.

Only Proton's elite marketing and strategy team has this absurd idea that there are standalone, independent market segments for each of their "models" ie. a Gen2 sedan market, a Waja market, a Wira market and an Iswara market... instead of an overall sub-compact market. That's what you get for hiring people solely because of their political connections or racial background.

If I were running Proton, I wouldn't even bother with the Gen2 sedan. Scrap it altogether. It's a waste of time because they already have another 3 other cars competing in the same segment, in the form of the Waja, Wira and Iswara. If they insist on launching it, then phase out the Waja, Wira and Iswara, put the fear of god into suppliers and production to improve the build quality of the new Gen2 sedan, and then direct all available resources into launching a mini-MPV.

And what can I say about the Gen2, Satria Neo and Savvy? Whether 2 or 4 doors, they're pretty much the same cramped hatch. I can't imagine why Proton needs so many hatches... In dire financial straits, Proton needs to gamble on a last ditch winning model that caters to the largest market segment in order to have any chance of surviving. But instead, it keeps churning new variants of the same tired old car that nobody wants... possibly just to fill the order books of suppliers and keep their workers employed.

Let me be the first to say, adios Proton. If the govt does not reinstate some form of protection or resume wasting taxpayer money propping it up, my bets are on its quick demise in the next few years or so.

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