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With Suzuki, Proton may look at India

Our Bureau | Updated on January 24, 2018


New ally in tow would change outlook for Malaysian carmaker

It is way too early at this point in time but the recent collaboration with Suzuki may just give Proton another impetus to enter India.

The Malaysian carmaker is keen on spreading its wings in Asia-Pacific and what better destination than the subcontinent which is on its way to becoming the third largest automobile market in the world.

There was a time when Proton was looking at setting up a facility in Andhra Pradesh some years ago but nothing really came out of it. It now remains to be seen if ally, Suzuki, will facilitate an entry though there many issues to be addressed.

In the first place, the Indian market has changed dramatically over the last few years with buyers now inclined to going the extra mile in picking up cars with smart features. In such a setting, Proton may just have its work cut out in offering something better beyond its current range of small cars, sedans and MPVs.

Two, it will not be the easiest of tasks convincing customers to go in for a Malaysian car brand when the more popular choices are Japanese, Korean and German. Finally, there may not be a compelling business reason for Suzuki to help launch Proton in India.

The present agreement will help the Japanese automaker grow its presence in Malaysia as part of a strategy for ASEAN. It will supply kits for a Suzuki model which Proton will make at its own plant. This will then be sold under the Proton brand through its network in Malaysia.

The first model, a compact car, will be made at the Tanjung Malim plant from August 2016. According to Suzuki, other models will be mutually studied by the partners. In addition, supply of engines and transmissions by Suzuki to Proton and subsequent installation by Proton for its own models will also be explored. Osamu Suzuki, Chairman & CEO, has hinted at developing a “comprehensive synergy” between the two companies.

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Published on June 18, 2015
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