Friday, 16 December 2005

Proton, oh Proton...

It was about a couple of months ago when Proton and Perodua launched their mini hatchback models and it was then when people saw how far Perodua has come and how backward Proton may seem to be moving. There was a lot of flack coming from every direction towards Proton, more and more people shifted their mindsets away and their domestic market share has fallen.

Everytime I see an episode of Top Gear, I am only reminded of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond's view of the Savvy and Gen-2 and how they constantly make fun of Proton. They laughed at the "My very first Lotus" tag-line which was given to the Savvy in the UK and continued to ridicule the Gen-2 on its cheap and inferior interior (hey that rhymes).

Proton on the other hand moved towards a new MD to head things up and had talks with Volkswagen to try to come up with a deal to set up shop here in Malaysia. Yes that is good but the whole AP issue was brought up and the blame was then put on that. I don't see any real change within Proton's mentality yet. All I see is a fancy new building along the Kesas highway which I don't know why it had to be so lavish for a company that creates cheap products which keeps breaking down. I see plenty of new cars stored in Subang Jaya and Shah Alam, all waiting to be sold instead.

If you read the newspapers lately such as TheStar, you would notice that Proton had placed a lot of advertisements regarding their latest car, the Proton Chancellor. The definition of chancellor is "any of various officials of high rank, especially A secretary to a monarch or noble and others". It was built for executives and designed to be a chauffer-driven vehicle. But in any executives right mind, who would want to ride in one of this unless they were forced to? That is why Proton forecasts to sell about a thousand of these cars next year.

From the outside it looks exactly like a Waja. Actually it looks like a Waja from the inside as well and I would know, I drive a Waja. The only additional things you might get with this car are leather upholstery and fancy gadgets. They even turned a 5-seater car into a two seater car. But of course, you are to be driven around in a car like this. So far I have not had wind of any price tag on this car.

Honestly, I still see Proton as a pride of Malaysia. But instead of going around making such "fancy" cars, shouldn't they be concentrating on ironing out the existing problems found with their cars? Why can't they try to improve on various build qualities or tighten their QA checking procedures? Or maybe source for suppliers that provide them with quality products rather than just selecting the cheapest. There are many issues that surround all of these problems but alas, their are all shrouded from our view. Is there too much of a blend of politics and business?

As consumers, we only get the end result, which is a broken down side window which had to be changed twice, door handles that cannot open doors, faulty signal lights, creaky suspension systems, so called Lotus handling which handles as graceful as a sackful of potatoes and a glove compartment that is falling apart. You see, these are not just the problems I see with my Waja, it happened to all of my friends who drive the same car. For a fact I know why SmartTag gets good sales, its because the more you use your electric powered window to receive your toll ticket or use your Touch N Go card, the higher the chance it will break down. Now I use a SmartTag and yet my power window broke down twice. I opened the control circuit and found that the motor was faulty and the circuit itself wasn't working all too well.

Which car company continues to manufacture a car model or design that is already more than 20 years old? Its sad to know the real truth because I really long to be proud of Proton and that it can achieve international greatness. I have yet to see an MNC of Malaysian origin. Maybe it might come but I am not putting my bet on Proton for the next couple of years. I see more future in AirAsia instead.

Check out these links below that show why Proton has a very tarnished image. Some of these are views of Proton car owners.
- Link 1
- Link 2
- Link 3
- Link 4
- Link 5

These links are all from the forums. They are just views. I will try to get more links from other forums but it might take a while as there are a lot of them out there especially if you check out the Autoworld forums.

Image source:
Business Times