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Flush proton eyes India

Personable: New Persona, released here in May, has been a hit in Asia.

Back-in-profit Proton sets sights on India as the next step in its growth plans

1 Jul 2008

PROTON announced its first operating profit in two years last month, when it revealed a pre-tax profit of $A54 million for the Malaysian financial year ending March 31, thanks mainly to stronger sales of its new Persona and Saga models, and now it has revealed plans to enter India's booming automotive market – the next major step in its goal to double annual sales to 300,000 by 2010.

Malaysia's national car-maker says it is initially planning to market three models in India by early 2009 - the Savvy, Saga and Persona – all of which are currently undergoing testing on the subcontinent.

"We are looking at a number of possible joint-venture partners in India with a strong focus on marketing," said Proton Cars managing director Syed Zainal.

"Our cars are CNG (compressed natural gas) compatible, which is widely accepted and used in India. We may bring CNG and develop other fuel options through our engineering subsidiary, Lotus, depending upon the results of the current feasibility study.

"Significant growth has been registered from our overseas operations and our main focus is on developing markets like China and especially India, where 75 per cent of the total cars sold are hatchbacks and compacts.

"India offers huge potential for a company like Proton. In terms of volume, we have set a target of doubling total sales volume to 300,000 units by 2010 and India will be a major part of that growth," said Mr Zainal.

Proton last month announced total orders of more than 40,000 for the Persona since its August 2007 launch, and more than 55,000 Saga orders since the new Proton city-car was launched in Asia in January.

Proton's medium-term plan, to the 2016 financial year, focuses on high-growth markets in South-East Asia, China, India, the Middle East and North Africa. Its next product addition will be a people-mover in early 2009.

The Malaysian maker spent RM500 million ($A166 million) on R&D last financial year and plans to cut the number of platforms it produces to two while increasing the number of core models from three to five by financial year 2010/11.

Apart from being the world's second-fastest growing passenger car market, India's road toll has now overtaken that of China to become the world's worst, with 100,000 people killed and two million injured annually on Indian roads, equating to about 300 road fatalities every day.

Read more:

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