Saturday, January 30, 2010

Proton Comes to Thailand

BANGKOK: Thailand’s Phranakorn Auto Sales Co Ltd plans to open 20 outlets to sell Proton cars in the country, with an initial target of 3,000 cars in the first year.
Its general manager (operation) Apichart Wangsatorntanakhun said eight outlets would be located in the capital and the rest in major provinces, with a long-term target of opening more throughout the country.
“We are looking for the best dealers and outlets. All these outlets will come with 3S — sales, service and spare parts — which are very important to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty to a brand,” he said in an interview here.
Phranakorn Auto Sales, a subsidiary of the PNA Group which is one of Thailand’s largest automotive companies, has been appointed as Proton’s authorised dealer in the country, with the official signing ceremony scheduled here on Thursday.
Apichart declined to reveal the models being brought into the Thai market, but said a range of 25 models could be picked.
“But for the start, we are not going to explode the market with many models and big volume. We want to grow at a stable pace and take care of our customers first to get their trust and loyalty,” he said.
The first model will be unveiled at the Thailand Motor Show in early December this year.
But Apichart hinted that the initial models would be priced less than 400,000 baht, targeting a niche market, especially youngsters, first car owners and those crossing over from pick-up to passenger cars.
In fact, there are no cars being sold in this price range in the country, with the nearest being Toyota Vios, which starts at 490,000 baht, he said.
With 14 years experience in the industry and having served as a top executive for major brands like BMW, Honda and Chevrolet in Thailand, Apichart said he is confident that Proton would be able to penetrate the Japanese-controlled automotive industry.
Apichart, who was brought in specially to steer Proton’s growth, said there are bright prospects for the carmaker in Thailand, adding that 270,000 passenger cars were sold last year, with Toyota leading the pack.

Malaysia’s national car maker Proton Holdings Bhd is confident that its exports will reach 44,000 by year end and be doubled next year when new markets are opened up in China and Thailand.

Managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir, noting that last year’s export sales numbered 23,000, said today that its overseas markets are growing fast, especially in Iran where sales could reach 16,000 this year, with a 15 to 20 percent growth in 2008.

Syed Zainal attributed the anticipated increase in exports to its expansion into the Chinese market by the end of the year, with Proton expected to ship at least 30,000 cars to its authorised dealer, Jinhua Youngman Automobile Manufacturing Co Ltd, and re-badged under the “Europestar” brand.

“China and Thailand are our new exciting markets. We are also talking to several parties in India and hope to establish our footing there, but not in this calendar year,” he told a press conference after announcing Proton’s entry into Thailand today through Phranakorn Auto Sales Co.

The agreement to appoint Phranakorn as Proton’s authorised dealer for an initial five years was signed by Syed Zainal and the company’s managing director, Thawatchai Jungsanguanpornsuk.

It was witnessed by Malaysia’s Deputy Chief of Mission to Thailand, Umardin Mutalib. Over 100 media personnel attended the ceremony, which marks Proton’s debut in the Kingdom after being in existence since the 1980s.

The first Proton model will be launched at the Thailand Motor Show at the end of November.

Syed Zainal said the company will use Iran as a base to move aggressively into the Middle East market.

He pointed out that Proton is in a better position to move overseas now with its product pipeline stretching to five years, adding that domestic sales have also been improving by 20 percent every month.

“Our target is to export 100,000 cars in a few years’ time, and at the same time we can compete with Perodua and other OEM (original equipment manufacturing) companies in Malaysia. We are not happy at being overtaken by Perodua but we are on track to regain the number one spot,” he said when asked about the competition from Perodua, Malaysia’s second national car maker.

He said testing on the much improved Campro engine has been completed and it will go into new cars in the near future.

On talks with German carmaker Volkswagen regarding a possible strategic partnership with Proton, Syed Zainal shed no new light, only reiterating that VW’s talks with Proton’s controlling stake holder, the government, are ongoing.

On Proton’s entry into Thailand, Syed Zainal sees good sales prospects despite the economic slowdown here, and he stressed on a long term commitment by Proton, especially with the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) opening the door to Malaysian-made vehicles.

“I am so proud to say that finally, Proton is in Thailand,” he said.

According to Syed Zainal, Phranakorn Auto Sales will open 20 outlets initially and double this in the next four years, with anticipated first year sales of 3,000 cars of yet to be announced models.

He felt that the Thai auto market is recovering, with total auto sales expected to be between 620,000 and 650,000 units by the end of this year.

Phranakorn auto sales general manager (operations) Apichart Wangsatorntanakhun said the company will focus on a 3S strategy (sales, service and spare parts) as well as an additional 3S promotion – savings, safety and style.

“We are going to have in our line-up a model with a price that is the lowest and with the most value for money in Thailand for at least the past 10 years,” he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment