When Geely took over 49.9 percent of Proton, it stated a bold promise of turning around the ailing Malaysian national car maker into the third biggest car brand in Southeast Asia’s ASEAN trade bloc – which comprises of 10 member countries.
Five years into the 10-year plan, Proton finished 2022 with 141,432 cars sold, giving it a 19.6 percent market share in Malaysia. That’s still very far off from the 2027 goal, which calls for 400,000 units.
In contrast, Perodua finished 2022 with 282,019 units, nearly twice as many as Proton, with a 39.1 percent market share.
Despite the setback, Proton says it is still on-track to meet its 2027 target, and that a range of new products, including new powertrain for existing affordable models – hinting to a new engine or transmission for the ageing Proton Persona, Iriz, and Exora – will provide some much needed boost.
Speaking at a press event yesterday evening, Roslan Abdullah, Deputy CEO of Proton said:
“The last 5 years have seen us launch two all-new products, updated our homegrown offerings, built a new engine assembly plant and bring more local assembly activities to Tanjong Malim.
"Over the next 5 years, our ultimate targets have not changed. We still aim to be a leader in Malaysia and No.3 in ASEAN, and yes I know, many of you questioned how realistic is this but allow me to explain how we will do it. Most of the sales volume in Malaysia is concentrated in a few segments and so Proton will continue to have offerings in sizeable and affordable segments, using homegrown products upgraded with new powertrains.
“At the same time we will support the strategy to turn the country with new generation vehicles, as spelled out in NAP 2020, so we will also launch new models with advanced technologies. Tied to this strategy is our move to penetrate and leverage on the growing demand for EV, PHEV, and HEV vehicles, or as we classify it – new energy vehicles or NEV. So you can expect more models in the future deploying several different solutions.
“Proton has also invested in a new engine plant in Tanjong Malim. The plant produces engines for models beyond the X50 and X70, and going forward there will be more variations of engines produced there that will be used in more models.”
Proton also clarified that it’s No.3 by 2027 goal is only for the passenger car segment, meaning that commercial vehicles like the Toyota Hilux, Isuzu D-Max, Mitsubishi Triton, Ford Ranger, plus the Toyota Hiace and its derivative models – all heavyweights in ASEAN’s total new car sales tally – are excluded.
It said the if judged solely by the passenger cars, Proton is already the 6th largest in ASEAN, with a 6 percent market share.
There is however one small problem. Without commercial vehicles, it would also mean that Perodua is already the third largest in ASEAN, behind Toyota and Honda, but ahead of Mitsubishi and Daihatsu.
Also read: Geely reiterates Proton's goal to become No.3 in ASEAN, even as Isuzu and Perodua sell 2x more
Below is the ranking of the biggest selling automotive brands (including commercial vehicles) in ASEAN, calculated based year 2022’s sales volume in the top-5 biggest markets in the region - Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam:
- Toyota: 985,463 units
- Honda: 338,980 units
- Isuzu: 287,095 units
- Perodua: 282,019 units
- Mitsubishi: 266,525 units
- Daihatsu: 202,665 units
- Proton: 141,432 units (total production, including exports outside of ASEAN)
- Suzuki: 130,433 units
- Hyundai: ~120,000 units (estimate)
- Ford: ~100,000 units (estimate)