KUALA LUMPUR: As part of its plan to revive Proton, new partner Zhejiang Geely Holding Group plans to revamp the product line and produce half a million vehicles in Malaysia by 2020.
It may start exporting Proton cars to other Asean nations, according to a report in the Nikkei Asian Review (NAR). It said Geely might also review and improve dealerships.
But it will not be easy.
The report noted that despite Geely taking the lead, Proton would have a difficult route to travel, as it was not a “power” brand abroad and local sales had stalled.
Geely agreed late last month to buy 49.9% of Proton from DRB-Hicom.
The NAR report said Proton’s sharply deteriorating performance in the last two years had weighed on DRB-Hicom’s books.
Proton’s market share hit just 12% in 2016, with vehicle sales totalling around 72,000 units.
The sales slump dealt a direct blow to parent DRB-Hicom, with the company posting a loss of RM1 billion for the automotive segment in the year ended March 2016.
For the year ended this past March, the segment’s loss topped RM950 million said the NAR report.
NAR said DRB-Hicom’s profits from real estate, construction and services businesses were washed away by the losses in its automotive segment, leading to two straight years of operating losses.