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Future models - Proton - Jumbuck

Jumbuck muster draws near

Volume-seller: Jumbuck has been a shining light for Proton in Australia.

Proton considers its Jumbuck options, including a 4x4, in Malaysian brand expansion

5 Dec 2005

IT IS a marketing opportunity so crystal clear it sears itself into your consciousness. A Proton Jumbuck all-wheel drive ute? Well, opportunity knocks.

Subaru deserted its Brumby owners long ago and, considering it does not intend to go back, there is an opening here that Proton Cars Australia (PCA) is now investigating.

PCA managing director, John Startari, told GoAuto he was looking at all options for future product, including crossovers and four-wheel drives.

And although an all-wheel-drive Jumbuck is a plausible option, he said the current front-drive vehicle’s low cost was a key part of its success.

Although the next-generation, Satria-based Jumbuck is still under development – late 2007 is a likely on-sale date – Mr Startari believes there are plenty of vehicle configurations that could be manufactured off the Satria platformarchitecture.

"There are a lot of Proton platforms that could have multiple variants developed off any platform," Mr Startari said. "There are a lot of things that are on the board that were off the board previously.

"We have a long-range product plan that’s yet to be refined."German components manufacturer Bosch is currently in talks with Proton to supply the car-maker with a diesel fuel-injection system for a turbo-diesel that could also power the next-generation Jumbuck.

The impending Proton-Volkswagen tie-up also means that apart from engines, the Malaysians could gain access to VW’s successful 4Motion allwheel drive systems.

43 center imageThe next-generation Jumbuck will offer an extended cab, in the manner of Ford’s Falcon, but remain a purpose-built low-cost and essentially small ute.

Apart from the Jumbuck, Proton is developing a large people-mover for launch in 2007 and also a medium-large car – a new-generation Perdana (pictured above) – to be launched around the same time with possibly a VW-sourced V6 or V5 engine.

However, Mr Startari said the current Campro series of Proton engines could also support development of a V6 configuration.

The new Perdana car would compete against the Kia Optima/Hyundai Sonata in size, packaging and price, although Mr Startari said the company would not sell a large car here until the "engine and package is right for this country".

One car that has been ruled out for Australia is the Chancellor, which has justgone on sale in Malaysia.

It is a long-wheelbase (2850mm) Waja with an emphasis on a limousine-like rear seat.

Mr Startari said that with the arrival next year of the Savvy and Satria, Proton’s fortunes were looking better.

"We also have Bob Hall in charge of new product development," he said. "He’s a man who understands the local product needs."Mr Hall, a former Mazda engineer known in Australia for his motoring writing, started at Proton as a product planner but now controls its A, B and C class programs, product planning, engineering design and styling.

Proton had built its business as a manufacturing-led company "but we are now looking at specific markets", Mr Startari said.

He said the Australian operations had learned a lot from the days of the ill-conceived Waja sedan, which was launched here as an over-priced and underpowered offering.

What's coming from Proton:

Savvy micro hatch - February 2006
All-new Satria hatch - April 2006
All-new Jumbuck utility - 2007
Perdana large car - 2007
Full-size people-mover - 2007

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