Just when you thought that Proton has righted the ship and back on course to recover lost ground, its sales and after-sales subsidiary, Proton Edar, now has a new man at the helm with Abdul Rashid Musa replacing Rohime Shafie less than a year after the latter assumed the position of CEO of the retail arm.
You could say that Proton has had an eventful 2016; receiving a lifeline from the government, undergoing a management change while launching four new models in close succession. Yet it found itself having sold 30% fewer cars compared to 2015 (from 102,174 units to 72,290 units), resulting in the loss of second position in overall market share to Honda.
To be fair, the decline is far from being the worst among car brands in a year when the total industry volume contracted by 13%. And with its key new models being launched only in the second half of the year, Proton had little opportunity to reverse the trend.
More curious is the recent story as reported by a local media outlet which cited ‘sources’ naming Geely and Peugeot as the two main candidates vying to be Proton’s new partner, and that the aforementioned personnel change is somehow linked to it. Our view is that this assertion is speculative as the suitors would have no say whatsoever on how Proton is supposed to be run at this point in time.
Furthermore, with the auto market in a heightened state of competitiveness, the introduction of a new boss means that the staff of Proton Edar would have to shuffle their feet and adapt to a new boss once again. And time isn’t exactly in Proton’s favour.
It’s only natural that many have opinions as to which brand is the better partner for Proton, if they are indeed Geely and Peugeot as reported. Peugeot seems like a fit as the brand is well established and familiar to Malaysian consumers, yet we shouldn’t forget how Geely revived the fortunes of Volvo (quite spectacularly) after acquiring the Swedish carmaker in 2010. But until the deal is sealed, the less said about Proton’s would-be-partner is probably better and that politics better not get in the way of a business deal. Remember Volkswagen?