Speaking with CarAdvice at a special event in Sydney today, Proton sales and marketing general manager Billy Falconer insisted the company was committed to the Australian market for the long haul.
“[We are committed to the Australian market] 100 per cent,” Falconer said.
“We are a subsidiary of Proton Malaysia and they’ve given us the reassurance that Proton Australia is not going anywhere. We are not an independent distributor, we have their full support, that’s why they want to push these new products this year and show that we are not going anywhere.”
Proton Australia expects to launch the new Proton Exora seven-seater family car on October 1 with a starting price of $25,990, followed by the Preve GXR a month later and the Proton Suprima S at the beginning of December.
The company’s approach to the Australian market is to bring new high-quality products with five-star ANCAP safety ratings. Proton says the Preve and Suprima S will both carry five-star ratings, while the Exora people-mover will remain a four-star vehicle until curtain airbags are added at a later date.
All three models will be powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 103kW of power and 205Nm of torque. The engine, which is the first that Proton has built independently (with help from Lotus), uses a ‘soft’ turbo to produce power similar to that of a 2.0-litre engine with the economy of a 1.6-litre, though Proton insists it’s not designed to be a performance engine.
Proton Australia expects its new vehicle range will help the brand reach its previous 0.2 per cent market share peak achieved three years ago when the S16 launched. Last month the company sold just 36 cars, taking its to 389 for the year, down from 789 cars for the same period last year.
Australia will play a big part in Proton’s future, with the Malaysian manufacturer set to use Australia as an export launching pad for its new vehicles.
“Any new car launched going forward, Australia will be the first export country because Australia is the market they can build their credibility for their own market as well,” Falconer said.
All new Protons will be backed by a five-year warranty, capped-priced servicing scheme and roadside assistance. Falconer added that customers could expect “pretty good value for money” when comparing the new range of Protons to their competitors.
Proton expects to have 30 national dealers by the end of this year.