Proton posts 20.4% growth in 1Q, sees ‘very challenging’ year ahead


PROTON Holdings Bhd’s sales volume grew 20.4% to 21,757 units in the first quarter this year (1Q20), with market share expanded from 17.4% to 20.1%.

The national carmaker said volume drivers in the first three months were the Saga which increased by 36% to 8,824 units sold, Iriz (602%) with 2,009 units, Persona (243%) with 5,677 units and Exora (17%) with 1,091 units.

The company’s flagship SUV — the X70 — however, saw a 48% decline to 4,145 units. Still, Proton said the five-seater was still the best-selling SUV in the country in 1Q20.

Despite the quarterly higher sales, Proton said the volume in March dipped by 41% to 3,277 units compared to the same month last year and dropped by 67% against the preceding February.

The company attributed the sales contraction to the Movement Control Order (MCO) that has forced all sales outlets to be closed since March 18.

“While our performance in January and February was very strong and far ahead of 2019, our momentum had slowed due to the MCO. However, the safety of Malaysia and its people is far more important than any commercial considerations, hence, Proton stands by the government on the measures taken,” CEO Dr Li Chunrong (picture) said in a statement yesterday.

Proton said it sees a very challenging year ahead as the fallout from Covid-19 after the MCO ends and puts businesses in “unchartered territory”.

The company said it has continued to operate with staff working from home and a skeletal workforce as approved by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry to maintain critical equipment at its facilities.

Li said the company is currently strategising and planning its next moves, while embracing the challenges that exist.

“In a sense, because Proton has fought to return to a much stronger position, my team and I are prepared to weather this storm. Considering our improvement over the last two years, I am quite confident that Proton will be able to overcome this crisis as we stay focused on our long-term goals,” he said.

The Malaysian Reserve reported that carmakers are bracing for a slowdown this year due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president Datuk Aishah Ahmad said automotive players are seeking the government to relax hire-purchase financing rules and reduce taxation for at least one year.

MAA recently reported that vehicle sales in February dropped, compared to January.

Total industry volume, which covers the sales of passenger and commercial vehicles, fell 5.3% or 2,249 units to 40,403 in February against January due to delay in new model launches and a negative impact of the virus outbreak on consumers’ sentiments.

The figure for March was expected to be further lower due to the Covid-19 pandemic.