KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 — Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Sdn Bhd (Proton) sold 109,716 units last year, an increase of 8.8 per cent over its landmark performance in 2019 with 100,821 units sold.
The national car manufacturer said market share for the year also rose to an estimated 21.1 per cent, equating to a significant 4.4 per cent increase.
“The main drivers of volume growth were the Proton Persona, Iriz, Exora and Saga, while the X50 surpassed expectations despite its later than planned arrival.
“This performance combined with a 49.8 per cent increase in export volume, allowed Proton to buck the trend of the Malaysian automotive industry which is expected to contract by an estimated 13 per cent,” chief executive officer Dr Li Chunrong said in a statement today.
The Proton Saga remained the company’s best-seller for 2020 while the launch of the Proton X50 and strong sales for the Proton X70 combined to make Proton the number one sport utility vehicle (SUV) brand in the country.
Li said COVID-19 had brought economic activity to a complete halt and its adverse effects required quick, prudent and tough management decisions.
“At Proton, the last few years of vigilant cost control and improved efficiencies allowed the company to react quickly to the crisis.
“This meant that despite the shutdown, there were no layoffs or salary cuts. More importantly, constant monitoring and agility allowed the company to ramp up production very quickly after the lockdown,” he said.
Proton lost over two months of car production and sales due to the Movement Control Order.
Li said despite the restrictions placed on the global movement of goods, 2020 saw a strong year for the company’s export division, with a bumper month in December.
It saw the first locally assembled Proton Saga roll-off the assembly line in Kenya and then make its debut alongside the Proton X70 in Pakistan where both models would be sold initially as complete built ups (CBUs) but later as complete knocked downs (CKDs) following the completion of a plant in Karachi later this year, he said.
The Proton Saga also burst onto the scene in Egypt and Bangladesh but it wasn’t the only model to make a big splash overseas last month, said Li.
“The Proton X50 entered its first export market when it made its international debut in Brunei on Dec 19, making it the fourth Proton model to be launched in the kingdom in 2020 after the Proton Persona, Iriz and Saga arrived in January,” he said.
As a proudly Malaysian brand, said Li, Proton felt compelled to step up for the nation when the pandemic hit.
The company was able to utilise its resources to contribute to the fight against the coronavirus, loaning 50 units of the Proton X70 to the Health Ministry while also producing and delivering about 120,000 face shields to frontliners, among others.
“2020 was a real test of Proton’s mettle as we had only just begun our new trajectory. The nature of this pandemic for an organisation like ours, which depends on global supply chains, put great strain on the business.
“However, a combination of good strategy and hard work has left us not only with an increase in sales against a decreasing market but a renewed belief in our product strategy, quality and commitment to our customers. We will continue to put the pedal to the metal in 2021 and strive to improve all aspects of the business,” he added.
Two days ago, competitor Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) announced it sold 220,154 vehicles last year, down from its record sales of 240,341 units in 2019.