A Proton Saviour Reborn

But can it save the Malaysian National Automaker before it is damned forever.  So, Proton launched the new Persona sedan last week to bo...

But can it save the Malaysian National Automaker before it is damned forever. 

So, Proton launched the new Persona sedan last week to boost its overall sales and prop up its ailing business. The competitively-priced sedan ranges from RM46,800 to RM59,800, making it one of the cheapest B-segment sedans available in the Malaysian market. At the launch, Proton CEO Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Kenali said that the national automaker aims to sell 3,000 to 4,000 units of the Persona each month.

Timing is everything, though. The Persona launch comes after Perodua launched the Bezza in July, which received 19,000 orders in just over three weeks since its launch. There is also the upcoming new Saga from Proton itself, slated for launch next month, which could compete with the Persona. Fuaad, however, believes that each model would appeal to different customers. 

Earlier this month, Proton received the last tranche of the RM1.5 billion soft loan from the government, which it needed to pay off its vendors. The irony is that the government-owned investment firm, Khazanah, had sold its stake in Proton to DRB-Hicom just a couple of years ago, and the government is now “bailing out” (and then some) the company that it had gotten rid of not so long ago.

Wait. It gets more interesting. Earlier this month, a business weekly quoted an inside source who said that DRB-Hicom was looking to sell Proton off, and in response, the conglomerate denied that it wanted to dispose of its entire stake in Proton Holdings Bhd. Okay, so part of the loan requirement is that Proton must seek a strategic partner who can help the floundering automaker turn its business around, so perhaps this might have something to do with the intent to sell part of its stake. The exercise to find a partner for Proton is expected to end by Q1 of 2017, and those reportedly interested include the likes of Volkswagen, General Motors and Geely.

So, back to the Persona. How does it fare? It has much in common with the Iriz: the same platform, ASEAN NCAP 5-star rating, and shares much of the same interior design. What’s different is that the Persona will only come with the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated VVT engine (107hp at 5,750rpm; 150Nm at 4,000rpm) while the 1.3-litre engine will appear in the Saga, so a distinction will be created between the two. Another selling point of the Persona is its large 510-litre boot space. 

 Here's a video expounding the finer points of the Persona:

Here's a bizarre video of a heist to steal the new Persona...so that they could make a viral video out of it:

If Proton wants to survive, lets hope it is better at making cars than writing scripts.


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