While official figures for the year have yet to be revealed for it, the Proton X70’s performance in 2019 has been deemed a success by the automaker. The first year of sales for the SUV has seen a total of 26,000 units being shifted, and while the car has missed the target set for it, Proton CEO Li Chunrong says that he’s happy with the results.
“We sold 26,000 of the X70 in the last one year and although that did not meet my target of 30,000, it was considered successful,” he told Channel News Asia in an exclusive interview.
He said the facelifted Saga has also been a stellar performer for the brand this year, contributing 70% to the company’s overall sales. Since its launch in August, the car has recorded more than 35,000 bookings, and sales of the car have breached the 4,000 unit mark for three consecutive months. With the X70 contributing 19%, the numbers generated by the two models represent nearly 90% of the automaker’s total sales.
Li, who says that the national carmaker is now aiming to go head-to-head with the likes of Toyota and Honda in terms of quality and branding, said that the company will seek to become an “international brand” by 2027. Exports will play an important part in achieving this.
He said that Thailand, which produces two million cars annually, exports a million units. “That is half to export, while Indonesia’s export is at 30%. With Malaysia however, exports are only 3%,” he said.
He added that for Proton, the best export performance was last managed in 2005, when the company exported 20,000 cars annually. “But in 2017, the numbers reduced to 200 cars per year. Why? Because of the product,” he said.
In the last two years, Proton has been able to increase its exports to 1,000 units, but Li says this is not enough. “Once we launch our upgraded models next year, our exports will increase and our aim is 5,000 cars a year,” he said.
The automaker’s largest export market currently is Egypt, where it sells left-hand drive Saga and Exora models. Proton is also looking to ramping up exports to Pakistan, where it is collaborating with Alhaj Automotive to establish an assembly plant in the country.