After 10 years, Proton returns to South Africa in bid to boost export sales

NATIONAL car maker Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Sdn Bhd (Proton) is now officially back in South Africa after exiting the market 10 years ago.

Proton deputy CEO Roslan Abdullah attributed the comeback to a growth in export volume and sales, which is vital to the company’s expansion plans.

“While the company continues to reclaim the market share in Malaysia’s automotive market, it needs to exploit the latent potential in international markets to become a leading automotive brand in the region,” he said in a joint statement today.

Roslan noted that as of end-August, Proton’s export sales rose 33.9% over the total number of sales for 2021.

“With the addition of South Africa to the list of export markets, the company is hopeful of ending the year with an even bigger percentage in growth.

“Proton is aggressively pursuing export sales as we believe it is one of the pillars to growing our overall volumes, and our aim is to achieve 6,000 export sales this year,” he said.

Pic credit: CarBay

The relaunch of the brand in the South African market, which also saw the Proton X70 and Proton X50 making their debut there, was hosted by Combined Motor Holdings Ltd (CMH), Proton’s official distributor in the country.

“Both models are now available as completely built-up models to customers in the Rainbow Nation and will be joined by the Proton Saga later in the year or the beginning of 2023,” Roslan added.

“Quality yet affordable SUV”

Meanwhile, CMH chief executive officer Jebb McIntosh said the company had jumped at the chance to bring the Proton brand back to South Africa.

The main reason was that CMH saw a gap in the market for a quality sports utility vehicle (SUV) within an affordable price bracket.

“There are many luxury brands selling SUVs in South Africa, but most are simply unaffordable for the average car buyer here,” he said.

The company plans to have 25 dealers within six months, the first 17 of which have already undergone sales and technical training.

McIntosh added that a full range of replacement parts is already in stock in CMH’s distribution centre so customers can buy the Proton vehicles with confidence.

Proton signed a deal to appoint CMH as the distributor for Proton vehicles in South Africa back in April. It exited the South African market in 2012.

Outside of Malaysia, Proton currently has operations in Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh.

It also exports cars to 13 overseas markets, not including South Africa. – Sept 19, 2022

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