PROTON had a bumper year in 2020, surpassing its 2019 sales performance. The 2019 fiscal year was the first time since 2015 that the company had surpassed the 100,000 vehicle sales mark. Despite interrupted production and sales during the Movement Control Order in early 2020, PROTON managed to sell 109,716 cars last year. It closed off 2020 with recording 13,306 cars sold in December.
This 2020 total is an increase of 8.8% over the 100,821 cars sold in 2019. In effect, PROTON was the only major automotive company to see year-on-year growth in Malaysia last year. Its market share has also correspondingly increased to an estimated 21.1% (+4.4%).
The brand’s PIES range (Proton Persona, Iriz, Exora and Saga) continue to be its foundation for sales, while the X50 surpassed expectations despite a delayed arrival into the market. The PIES models were updated in 2019 and each model saw higher sales figures in a challenging year. The better performance can mainly be attributed to a combination of the government’s PENJANA initiative to encourage new car sales as well as consumers seeking more budget friendly options.
In terms of individual performance, each Proton model ended the year near the top of their respective segments. The Proton Saga remains as the company’s bestseller for 2020 (46,527 units), with the Persona in second spot (23,917). The availability of the Proton X50 (3,787) in October 2020 and continued strong sales for the Proton X70 (21,944) combine to make Proton the number one SUV brand in Malaysia.
“We are grateful to have achieved this level of performance against the backdrop of 2020. To describe it as challenging would be an understatement but we persevered. Our results were backed by many factors, trust from our customers, support from the government, commitment from vendors, resilience of our dealers and also the diligence of our staff”, said Dr. Li Chunrong, Chief Executive Officer of PROTON.
Despite the business disruption, the implementation of cost controls and improved efficiency meant that PROTON managed to weather this crisis without resorting to layoffs or salary cuts. However, it could not escape issues related to the global supply chain which has affected the availability of parts but stated that it is taking steps to address this.
The company is also increasing its focus on the export market. It recently saw the first locally assembled Proton Saga roll off the assembly line in Kenya, as well as its debut alongside the Proton X70 in Pakistan. Both models will be sold initially as CBUs and later as CKDs, when the assembly plant in Karachi is completed later this year. The Saga was also launched in Egypt and Bangladesh.
In addition, the Proton X50 entered its first export market, Brunei, in December. It became the fourth Proton model to be launched in the kingdom in 2020 after the Proton Persona, Iriz and Saga in January. This combined activity resulted in a 49.8% increase in export volume for the company.
On the local front, PROTON continued to increased its retail footprint with an additional 20 3S / 4S outlets, bringing its network to 140 by the end of 2020. The company continued its programme of upgrades to the customer value-chain. Attention was paid to revamping the back-end operations related to aftersales and parts.
It had also transferred ownership of 49 of its branches to be more focused. This allows the company to focus more on product development, product quality, aftersales service and exports while providing the opportunity to dealership expansion.
“2020 was a real test of PROTON’s mettle as we had only just begun our new trajectory. The nature of this pandemic for an organization like ours, which depends on global supply chains, put great strain on the business. However, a combination of good strategy and hard work has left us not only with an increase in sales against a decreasing market but a renewed belief in our product strategy, quality and commitment to our customers. At the same time we also saw to it that we did our part for the country, which all of us at PROTON are especially proud of. We will continue to put the pedal to the metal in 2021 and strive to improve all aspects of the business”, added Dr Li Chunrong.