Proton gradually restarts operations today

The national carmaker will reopen its sales and services premises in green and yellow zones based on the relevant authorities’ requirements

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

PROTON Holdings Bhd is expected to gradually restart operations beginning today, reopening its sales and services outlets following the government’s decision to relax the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Proton’s resumption of operations is contingent on the company complying with all stipulations required by the relevant authorities, the national carmaker said.

It expects to reopen its sales and services premises today in green and yellow zones based on the relevant authorities’ requirements.

All premises and personnel will be subject to strict safety protocols guided by the National Security Council (NSC) to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Proton will begin the gradual resumption of all its business activities. However, the safety of our customers and employees is our main priority, and in line with the prime minister’s calls to adopt

a ‘new normal’, we will introduce a new set of protocols in all areas,” CEO Dr Li Chunrong said in a recent statement.

Besides reopening its showrooms, the car manufacturer will also gradually resume production operations at its plants in Tanjung Malim and Shah Alam today.

Operations at the corporate office at the Centre of Excellence will also begin, although new work practices will be adopted to minimise contact and infection.

“We would like to reassure all our customers that no effort will be spared in ensuring their safety and health. As a responsible automotive manufacturer, safety is always our primary concern,” Li said.

New vehicle sales in March dropped 60% year-on-year to 22,478 units, with over 32,000 fewer vehicles rolled off showrooms during the MCO, according to data from the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

MAA also said sales volume plunged 44% last month compared to 40,403 units delivered in February, as the deadly coronavirus crippled the automotive industry.

Since March 18, the MCO has halted production and shut down car outlets, while cash-strapped dealers rapidly sink into the abyss.

Car manufacturers have resorted to selling their products via online platforms during the MCO in order to keep businesses afloat, but this is expected to be difficult and will not produce encouraging numbers until companies can register and deliver new cars despite movement restrictions.

Dealers and principals have been resorting to digital showrooms with low booking deposits and special promotions to at least keep the orders coming in.

Car dealers said they plan to offer value-added products and services to attract buyers post-MCO, but any price reduction would be guided by the policies of the principal.