Friday, December 16, 2005

Proton is the Best Company Ever!

Would you buy a glorified Waja for RM138,000?

I mean seriously, would you? Sure, Proton has tried to shove drivel down our collective automotive throats over the past 2 decades, but at least we could solace in the fact that it was drivel that was relatively cheap (I know that this is due to our country's protectionist policies, but I won't get into that). Lets face it, we Malaysians really don't have much choice when it comes to cars which cost less than RM70,000. In one corner of the sub-RM70K ring, we have crappy Malaysian cars and in the other, we have crappy Korean cars. It doesn't really matter which one you pick because you will still end up with, well, crap.

Now some of the heads of Proton must have been thinking, perhaps we could take the same crap that Malaysians have been buying all this while, polish it a little, elongate it a bit, add some gimmicky features here and there, throw in some fancy wannabe name and sell it for double the price. You could almost picture a little light bulb flashing above their wrinkled noggins as they hatched this 'brilliant' business idea. They must have been smoking some serious shite during the meeting which gave birth to this monstrosity.

Chancellor Facts

For those of you who are unaware of this grandiose scheme of Proton, here are some basic facts.

1) The new Proton Chancellor will basically be a Waja with a Perdana Engine
2) It will be slightly longer than a normal Waja however (similar to those Perdana Executives and even *shock horror* the Saga Limousines)
3) Its parts, components and interior items will NOT be sourced from Proton's current vendors but from more reputable, high-quality vendors (Proton must have finally realised that its current vendors are a load of hairy bollocks)
4) The Chancellor will cost RM138,000. Sure, Proton says that it costs so much because they reengineered the entire platform of the car to make it longer instead of merely cutting the existing chassis and welding on some extensions like how they did in the Perdana Executive. Frankly, this is like having some hawker sell you a bowl of maggi mee for RM20 because he now actually cooks the mee instead of just dipping it in some sewage-choked water and calling it done.
5) Oh yeah, it will also look like this..........

....hmmm, it looks like a Waja, feels like a Waja and even sounds like a Waja. Wait, but if you squint hard enough you will notice that the rear doors are slightly longer. Oh what the heck, this car IS a bloody Waja with an additional few inches of legroom for crying out loud! Also do check out those extremely 'stylish' sport rims. Phew..and I thought that Proton was going to rip us off by equipping the car with some crap JRD rims. Oh wait, it just did. Bummer.

Dilbert-esque Management

I don't get Proton's management. What is it with them and their fetish for rehashing old designs and technology? Why do they insist on giving each new model of theirs a new name, with no continuity in their line-up whatsoever? Is it so that they can delay phasing out their old models, allowing them to peddle the old turd alongside the new? The last point doesn't seem so far fetched actually, seeing as how the Iswara (a car which was launched when bell-bottoms were still in vogue) is still on display in certain showrooms.

Good volume car manufacturers (ie, every other car company) rely on continuity and clear model differentiation when it comes to their line-up. For example, BMW has several clear categories with regards to its cars. It has the 3 series which is aimed at young executives, the 5 series for senior management and the 7 series for Russian Dictators. It has stuck with these model names for decades simply because, people know what these models stand for. When you hear of a new 3 series being launched, you don't pause to ask who its target market is or even its price range. You know straight off that since it's a 3 series, it will be a sporty driving machine which is targeted at young executives, and that it will be somewhere in the region of RM300K. Simple. Honda follows the same strategy (with its Civic, Accord etc), Mercedes (C-class, E-Class and S-Class etc) and even Porsche (Carrera, Boxster etc).

Proton on the other sees it fit to give every single one of its cars a new name. Maybe it wants to follow Ferrari's footsteps (which is pretty silly since Ferrari is not a volume car manufacturer and hence can afford to position its models the way it does), who knows? The one thing I know is that with each new model launch, Proton is increasing the complexity of its already jumbled line up. Take the wira for instance (which is still for sale, mind you). Its a 4-door car in the price range of RM40-RM50+K and it's clearly targeted at medium income households with a family of say, four or five. Straightforward right? Not so. Proton also has the Waja, which is also a 4-door car priced around RM50+K and is targeted at...ermmm...medium income households with a family of four or five. Hold on, it gets better, there is also the Gen.2 which is ANOTHER 4 door car priced around RM50K and is targeted at....*drumroll*....medium income households with a family of four or five...sighhh. You see what I'm getting at?

Now with the new Chancellor, I wonder just how bad the situation will get. Proton's join chief operating officer, Datuk Kisai Rahmat said that the Chancellor would not affect sales of Proton Perdana becase "each has its own appeal". I guess he is right. The Perdana will appeal to Malaysians who are looking for a decently sized, mid-level executive car, whereas the Chancellor will appeal to Malaysians who are looking for a decently sized, mid-level executive piece o' trash. Now THAT's clear differentiation!

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Anonymous Balajoe said...

What's new from Proton - our national "recycling" company.

For RM138K, we can have a triple x triple better car like Ford Focus. Whilst the luxury may been improved (wah with DVD player stuff), I wonder how the safety level has been improved?

10:34 AM  
Blogger Bernard Yong said...

balajoe : Safety? What safety?...hahahah

10:37 AM  
Blogger DavidLee said...

Man, RM138K .. I'd buy some other car. Or a house. Somewhere ulu ler.


11:20 AM  
Blogger Bernice said...

and more cars...

2:30 PM  
Blogger Wu, CanRou said...

Well said dude! One thing to add is that those Iswara on sale now is targeted to a different market. Clearly aim at AhBengs because it comes pre-ahbengified. Proton is a truly great company!

2:39 PM  
Blogger ::Lord Apprentice:: said...

u have a point there about bmw, honda vs proton marketing strategy etc.

Perhaps their marketing strategy is --> CONFUSION.

If the people are confused, they'll buy everything? Hmm....seems to be working eh?

8:21 PM  
Blogger Mavik said...

Only Proton can still continue to manufacture a car that was designed 20 odd years ago? (referring to the Wira)

5:13 PM  
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