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Proton – a proxy victim of political fallout

POSTED BY Vishal Bhaskaran ON 15 June 2015

By Yamin Vong

Unfortunately, Proton is now the victim of the battle between the PM, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and, Proton founder, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Exora and Proton is an unfortunate target because it was a SPAD taxi committee that anointed the Exora as the sole model for owners who wanted to renew their 10-year taxi permits.

According to officials, the SPAD committee had shortlisted the Chevrolet Cruz and the Proton Exora for selection as the main taxi model for Malaysia. The Toyota Innova was a leading contender but was above SPAD’s price criteria.

The Nissan NV200 that was New York city’s choice for an official NYC taxi was also above the price category.

“After selecting the Exora based on the price and its large size compared to the Cruz, the committee asked that the Exora be loaded with mandatory features such as wi-fi and a computer lap top and this pushed up the price of the MPV.

Delivery schedules were delayed because Proton had to engineer new wiring,” said the officials who cannot be named because they are not authorised to comment.

The bigger issue before Malaysians is if this proxy battle between the politicians could lead to better business principles for the automotive industry.

Could this proxy war lead to a genuine alliance between Proton and foreign investors who are keen on investing in Malaysia’s automotive market.

There are two aspects of AP’s that dismay the foreign investor.

The open AP for individuals is unappetising for foreign brand owners because these individuals take a free ride on the investments in spares and aftersales service.

The matter of franchise AP’s where brand owners are obligated to partner with influential Bumiputera importers is another catch in the throat of foreign automotive investors. They do not have to suffer these conditionalities in Thailand.

So will the battle to lead Malaysia ironically lead to the real liberalisation of the Malaysian automotive industry, and the greater benefit of Malaysia as a whole?

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