By RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
Proton Holdings Bhd unveiled the facelifted Iriz and Persona yesterday, in its bid to ensure the momentum of the brand’s revival remains strong and attracts more consumers.
Proton chairman and DRB-Hicom Bhd group MD Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar Syed Ali Rethza said the redesigned models are set to be additional boosters for the carmaker, on top of its flagship SUV — the X70.
“They are the newest addition in our range of ‘talking cars’. We are proud to pioneer in connected cars in their own segments. The turnaround that we set months ago is looking highly probable,” Syed Faisal said in his speech during the twin launches in Kuala Lumpur last night.
The updated Iriz and Persona are rolled out in a collaboration between Proton’s in-house design division and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd’s studios.
DRB-Hicom holds a 50.1% stake in Proton, while Geely owns 49.9%.
The Iriz 2019 is priced from RM36,700 to RM50,700 a unit, while the new Persona debuts at RM42,600 to RM54,600.
The latest Iriz and Persona offer the “Hi Proton” intelligent cockpit interaction system, among some 300 items upgraded from the models’ previous generations.
Other features include intelligent entry, push-start button and a refreshed interior.
Proton CEO Dr Li Chunrong previously said the company is expected to see a 30% increase in sales for the facelifted Iriz and Persona.
During its soft launches in mid-April, Proton revealed that bookings for the redesigned Iriz and Persona 2019 had reached 8,000 units.
Proton is expected to draw new buyers, particularly the youth, to the brand with the technologically advanced Iriz, Persona and X70.
As it is, the X70 has revitalised the brand’s image as the current No 3 carmaker in terms of market share in the country and is on course to overtake Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd for the second spot.
In 2018, Proton’s market share stood at 12.1% with 64,744 units, trailing behind Honda at 19.2% with 102,282 units, according to statistics from the Malaysian Automotive Association.
Since its launch in December 2018, the X70 has received more than 25,000 bookings and over 10,000 units registered.
Li previously said Proton can achieve breakeven this year and is set to be profitable by 2020.
He stated that the company is targeting sales of 90,000 units in 2019 and 400,000 units by 2027, based on its 10-year strategic turnaround plan in becoming the largest original equipment manufacturer in Malaysia and the third-largest in South-East Asia in terms of market share.
On the export front, Proton is keen to explore new markets, including Pakistan and the Middle East, to boost sales volume beyond Malaysia.
To date, the company has 75 new 3S (sales, services and spare parts) and 4S (including body and paint) centres with a new corporate identity, a leader in terms of the number of 3S/4S outlets for automotive brands in Malaysia.