Proton to see management changes in line with expansion

According to its CEO, the national carmaker presently aims to triple production by 2027

By MARK RAO / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

Proton Holdings Bhd is expected to see major changes at the management level, in line with its target to achieve 300,000 units a year production capacity in the next 10 years.

CEO Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Mohd Kenali said the national automaker requires additional experts with good industry experience from abroad for its planned expansion, as the com- pany moves operations from its Shah Alam base to Tanjung Malim.

Ahmad Fuaad said the expansion is part of the company’s efforts to reclaim its mantle in the domestic car market, following a partnership on June 23 this year where Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd took a 49.9% stake in Proton.

“As we relocate from Shah Alam to our Tanjung Malim plant, coupled with the slated launch of a new model via the Geely collaboration (in 2019), this will likely necessitate the need to expand our capacity,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) when contacted.

“We will expand as and when needed to meet demand in our Malaysian, as well as South-East Asian markets.”

He said Proton presently rolls out approximately 100,000 units annually, with the aim to triple production by 2027.

The gradual phasing out of the automaker’s operations in Shah Alam will mark the end of a relationship that began back in 1985 — where the company launched its first model, the Proton Saga, in the same year.

As the automotive unit under conglomerate DRB-Hicom Bhd looks to turn around its fortunes amid increasing competition and against accumulated losses over the past year, a larger workforce is required to support Proton’s expansion needs.

“As we bid farewell to Shah Alam and move into our Tanjung Malim factory in Perak, we will add to our
workforce to suit our needs,” Ahmad Fuaad said.

“From the manufacturing side, employees are to remain majority local — though there will be a mix of
foreign and local personnel at the management level,” he added.

TMR had previously reported that Geely is predicted to assume a central role in production, sales and marketing following its 49.9% acquisition of Proton — though majority holder DRB-Hicom will continue to lead the company.

Ahmad Fuaad said these ongoing efforts are part of Proton’s turnaround strategy, which is pivoting on the Geely collaboration to turn a new leaf for the company.

“We are collaborating with a big player in the industry to achieve higher production, meet technology needs and secure the technical expertise to run operations, while also reducing costs and remaining competitive in the market,” he said.

He cautioned that such efforts take time and will not reach its full potential till after a two-year period of adjustment.

The Geely buyover will further see Proton relinquish its 100% indirect stake in Lotus Advance Technologies Sdn Bhd to Geely and Etika Automotive Sdn Bhd.

DRB-Hicom, Geely and Proton are presently working towards securing the necessary regulatory approvals to finalise the deal.

For its recent quarter ended June 30 this year, Proton managed to reduce its losses after achieving stronger revenue and higher sales during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri season, which in turn helped holding company DRB-Hicom to reduce losses for the period.