Monday, October 29, 2012

Honda to collaborate with Proton in Malaysia

In a news that quite shocked long time Honda fans, Proton announced today that they have signed a partnership with Honda to jointly develop cars for the Malaysian market. Leaving aside the general sentiments, what I believe is happening is that both parties saw in each other the means to achieve their own objectives. 

Firstly, in his mid-year speech last month, Honda CEO Ito-san has announced that Honda plans to focus on the mini-car Brio for this region, developing multiple variants off it. The Brio sedan has already been sneaking out in the Honda Thailand website. Next to come is supposedly an SUV based on the Brio. However, having been eye-ing the Malaysian mini-car market for a long time now, Honda is well aware that policies from the relevant authorities are not conducive to any non-Malaysian manufacturers trying to enter into this lucrative market. The annual sales of mini-car in Malaysia is several hundred thousand and for foreign manufacturers like Honda, whose annual sales of 50,000 units is already considered an 'incredible achievement', the mini-car segment is attractive indeed, especially given Honda's recent heavy focus on just sales numbers. 

Honda's arch competitor Toyota on the other hand had already entered in a collaboration with the other big Malaysian manufacturer Perodua many years ago. The result was the introduction of the superbly successful Passo model rebadged as a Perodua Myvi. Honda surely have noticed this and must have learned a trick or two from the master of marketing. 

Enters Proton. It is a known secret that Proton has been dying to get a slice of the mini-car market. Their previous venture, the Proton Savvy was, to be polite, a lacklustre model. Launched at the same time as the Myvi, it was selling in the tens to Perodua Myvi's thousands. Even today the Savvy was not a very common sight on Malaysian roads. So, Proton most definitely have been looking at ways to eat into Perodua's Myvi market.

So it is highly likely that the main product of this Honda-Proton collaboration will be the introduction of the Honda Brio into the Malaysia market but re-badged as a Proton and with some minor comestic changes and some reduction of contents. Only time will tell if this is a correct guess.


FiSHChan said...

WHAT??- collaboration with Proton.

OK well if Honda see it as good, then why not. But Proton has been a failure (not making any mark around the world- if you compare with the Korean cars which they were born around the same time) for so long I don't understand the existence of it anymore. So I don't really care at this point.

I've never understood why Proton sees a need to make small car to compete with Perodua. Perodua makes small cars, Proton makes bigger cars. The two fill a good market for themselves. IMO Proton should just concentrate on making their cars better, make cars that people want, not increase more models, fix their economy of scale problem so the manufacturing is less expensive, fix their stupid reliability problem instead making that smokescreen about the power window warranty, make the interior less cheap, sell it around the world, drop the obsolete models and make a name for itself instead of still keep making cars for Malaysia market because that is the babysit protected market for Proton. In other words, they need to be COMPETITIVE.

I remember some people ask me why we don't respect Proton as it is our 'national car' but I reply them respect is not given, it is earned! And Proton surely did not earn their respect they still have to earn it and not close enough. There is always something about their product that is not refined properly and always lacking to competition even though they add more and more features and gadgets.

I really do hope the taxs on the foreign cars will drop completely and test how Proton can survive in that environment because that would be the good environment for it. If they sink then let them sink I won't miss them wasted enough of our money to keep them afloat in the first place..

Btw, did they mention anything about using the IMA tech from Honda?

TOVA said...

It can say it is business or you can say it is plain greed. The mini-car market is huge and the number of Myvi on the road forms too attractive a market for any manufacturer to ignore. For a fact I know Honda has been eyeing this market for a long time, since the days of Kuraishi-san and his Honda Life rumour. At the moment, there is not much detail about the collaboration. Time will tell. But my personal suspicion is that the first one to come out will be a Proton Brio...

FiSHChan said...

BTW, I have a Proton once. Technically it was my parent's, but it was loan and registered with my name (when I first got my job and my we needed a car badly). And to tell you about how that Proton was, I was somewhat quite grateful when it was stolen about 11 years later.

TOVA said...

I had to serve time through two models of Protons. One was quite OK, the Proton Sage 1.3 Megavalve, actually my wife's car before she married me. That generation was the last of the properly made Protons. It was barely acceptable and very slow. Then I upgraded it to a Proton Wira 1.5 automatic. That was not a very good car at all. It felt like a tin-can, really. When we had the resources to upgrade the Wira we quickly changed to an EK3 Civic Ferio Vi. Now, THAT was truly a wondeful car.

FiSHChan said...

I thought 'Megavalve' is for 1.5 versions (12 vavle)? Anyway, yeah I am familiar with Megavvle Protons because it was the car that my parents was impressed with and want to replace their old Mazda with, it was cheap and reasonably good (i.e 1980s Misubishi Lancer).

Post a Comment