Saturday, June 09, 2018

The Latest Bits of News on Proton and the Upcoming Geely-Proton Boyue SUV

The first of Proton's upgraded dealerships was officially launched yesterday. It is hoped that the upgrade of all the 3S and 4S centres as per target, will help grow PROTON’s market share in line with the Company’s goals. To-date 75% target achieved or 82 outlets approved for upgrading for the year. It is hoped that by next year, there will be up to 109 dealerships with 3S or 4S standards. 

Of course, we shall only see whether the upgrades are fruitful when the actual numbers come in. Right now, we have heard that Proton is experiencing a surge of bookings due to the zero GST rated period we are in. It is hoped that this can be translated into actual sales numbers are most of these are dependent on financing. 

Last count, loan approvals is under 50% for Malaysian car brands due to bookings coming from the lower income group. And prior to this tax holiday, sales have been weak with monthly sales of around 4,000 units per month for the past two months (not encouraging figures according to industry pundits). 

Dr Li (pictured above) also mentioned that his strategy to turn around Proton was to get everything in place first and then, like a bamboo shoot, which will only suddenly emerge after a couple of years, grow tremendously quickly. It isn't an express turnaround plan by the looks of it. 

Firstly, he seems to be focused on sales and aftersales by refreshing the outlets as well as upgrading them. Then he has brought in new people to helm key positions in sales and aftersales. Of course, sales numbers have still stagnated even though there have been new personnel added. 

One reason is that there have also been some changes in the dealer financing compared to what was done before Geely came into play. Now, Proton is not giving out dealer financing for vehicles, they have to do it themselves as how everyone in the industry have been doing it. Dealers do like every other dealer in the industry and have to get banks to floorstock their cars. It seems that Proton bit the bullet and decided that they were going to pull the plug on self financing their dealers by the looks of it and took the brunt of the effect which resulted in lackluster sales for the past few months. 

And then finally, we have the Geely-Proton collaboration vehicles coming, which seems to be the main push of the turnaround - fresh vehicles to add more pizzazz to the brand. The first will be the much talked about Boyue which should arrive by the end of the third quarter of this year.

The Upcoming Boyue SUV - The first of Geely-Proton vehicles

The Geely Bo Yue (as how it is stated in Geely's website)  or Boyue will be the first Geely-Proton SUV out before the end of the year. The first phase vehicles in CBU form and then in CKD form with some additional tweaks to the front and rear bumpers aside from the right hand drive conversion and badging. There will also be a lot of connectivity in the car and even voice control for some of the car's functions. 

The BoYue pictured above had just completed an 18,000 km drive challenge from Xi’an to London sometime early June 2018. Geely Auto and Shell had partnered up to make the challenge through 58 cities and 9 countries in about one month. This does show that the BoYue has potential in terms of robustness. It also tells us that the BoYue is not some low grade China SUV. 

We had a discussion where quality was touched upon, and it is noted that the Boyue sells in China where there are so many brands (both Chinese and foreign makes) competing against one another. When there is actually stiff competition, no one would actually sell a half-baked product. So the Boyue could be  a decent SUV to actually own if one takes this into account.

The Boyue will be followed by one new model for each year after that till around 2021. By then it is hoped that the sales and after sales experience will have been taken up a level so that Proton not only sell good products but also the after sales capability to suit. 

Of course, it is hoped that the CRV sized Boyue would bring in more brand presence as well as add to the sales numbers. Hopefully there will be more good news after this for the beleaguered Malaysian brand. 

Fingers crossed, as only time will show us the results from this latest string of events surrounding Proton. 

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