A Remarkable Achievement Page 4

A Remarkable Achievement Page 4

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This plant is also claimed to be
the most advanced of its type in ASEAN. It has an Automatic Line Control System
which, besides enabling real-time monitoring of the status of every single unit
on the line, will also allow customer orders (in future) to be sent direct to
the factory and the factory will be able to provide the build status of a
specific unit ordered.

No specific figures were given for Waja production although the number mentioned
is between 40,000 and 50,000 units a year. When AUTOWORLD.COM.MY visited the
plant last week, pilot production was underway with only a small number of
completed units visible. Quite likely, full-scale production will commence
around the middle of the year to build up stocks for the September sales launch
(bookings start in August). Incidentally, the target group of customers Proton
has in mind for the Waja is in the late 30s and family-oriented or executives.

It’s interesting that Proton chose to reveal its new model four months before
sales actually start. This is a departure from traditional practices of
Malaysian car companies to have the new model ready for sale at the day of
unveiling or the next day. However, it is not a unique practice in the auto
industry either as many manufacturers in the USA and Europe show off their new
models a year before sales start. And because of so many outside parties being
involved so early in the development, it was also necessary to reveal the car as
soon as possible so that the tight veil of secrecy could be loosened and make
life easier for the module suppliers.

As far as pricing is concerned, Proton is tight-lipped about this. When Tengku
Mahaleel asked media members to indicate how much they would pay, the lowest
price suggested was RM70,000 – to which he said that they were looking at
something ‘lower’ than that. This obviously has implications on the sale of the
Wira, which Proton will not be phasing out. If buyers decide the price
difference is insignificant, they may ignore the Wira and wait for the Waja, a
situation which is said to be making EON apprehensive.

Whatever happens, Tengku Mahaleel said that it is important for Malaysians to
give strong support to their national car company, particularly after the market
is opened up to more imports in the post-AFTA period. “We need the
continued support of Malaysians because profitability is crucial to our survival
in the next few years so that we can develop new and better models,” he
stressed.

Congratulations to Proton on this remarkable achievement! Proton Boleh!

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