PROTON Appoints CMH Group As South Africa Distributor
PROTON is making a return to South Africa after a decade-long absence. Its last presence in the country was in 2012. It is set to re-enter South Africa subsequent to the signing of an agreement that appoints CMH Group (Combined Motor Holdings) as the distributor in South Africa.
The first shipment of fully imported (CBU) models is expected to go on sale in September 2022, starting with the Proton X50 and X70. It will follow up with the Proton Saga, which was last sold 10 years ago. PROTON is bullish about its prospects in South Africa. The company has projected strong sales this year and is targeting to grow by more than double volume in 2023.
For the first quarter of this year, total export sales for PROTON has increased by 175% compared to the same period in 2021. This is expected to increase as the company continues to focus on growing export sales by more than 300% by the end of the year.
In 2010, PROTON had exported 29,833 vehicles to several overseas markets. This however, reduced to just 248 vehicles in 2017. With an emphasis on building its export sales in tandem with domestic sales, PROTON is beginning to see an improvement. Last year, it sold 3,018 vehicles overseas which is more than double the 1,508 units exported in 2020. For 2022, the company’s International Sales Department is targeting to grow export sales exponentially and is targeting 10,000 units.
A growth target like this requires not only new markets but also growth in assembly (KD) operations overseas. Currently, PROTON has assembly operations in Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh. Assembly operations in Sri Lanka is scheduled to start in the second half of 2022. Currently, PROTON is exporting cars to 13 overseas markets, excluding South Africa.
As a percentage of Malaysia’s overall vehicle exports, PROTON’s numbers are becoming increasingly prominent. From 12.8% of total exports in 2019, the number grew to 30.2% in 2020 and hit 60.9% in 2021 despite the challenging conditions due to COVID-19. This makes PROTON the leading vehicle exporter from Malaysia.
“PROTON’s long-term goals require exports to play a major role to grow the company’s overall sales as TIV in Malaysia is expected to remain flat. So, we are exploiting the strength of our new products, our brand and even the links Malaysia has with other countries to establish a foothold in many new markets. This is then bolstered by establishing KD operations where possible, which also helps to grow local economies,” said Steven Xu, Director of International Sales, PROTON.
Another reason for the sales growth is PROTON’s improved model range which has expanded since 2018 with the addition of 2 SUVs jointly developed with Geely. The sales success enjoyed in Malaysia by the Proton X50 and Proton X70 has been largely replicated in other markets, helping to establish the brand and paving the way for more models to be exported.
“Our new model range offers advanced features that are on par with many competitors from other brands and in many of our markets, the Proton X50 and Proton X70 sit near the top of their class in terms of specifications yet are sold at prices equivalent to or less than their direct rivals. This helps to draw in the upper echelon of local car buyers and helps build brand equity in these markets, making it easier for our other products to then be accepted in the future,” added Steven Xu.