Bring back the glory days of Proton, so said Dr. M

The Proton Saga I. People first thought The I stands for injection, but Proton said it was a monicker for "istimewa" - that was how Proton make fun of us in its heydays.

Recently, the Proton’s advisor urged Proton to bring back its glory days. Upon examination, the so called glory days of Proton was in my view actually a sort of forced glory that enbled Proton to gain billions ringgit of profits. In order to enable the then fledgling Proton to gain its footing in the automative sector, the government enforced many restrictions on other (foreign car companies) makes of cars. I remember drooling over a gleaming red Nissan Sentra as the price was way beyond our reach as compared to Proton.

Mind you back in 1988, this piece of metal contraption costs well above 60K

So the average Malaysian wage earners which I reckon formed the bulk of car buying public at the time can only afford to buy Proton. We had to put up with freezing power windows, jammed central locking, leaking boots, low grade Blaupunct stereo system, and the list went on and on. What choice did we have at the time as other brands we artificially made so expensive, it is almost economically suicidal for middle income family to buy other makes of cars. The price diference can be as much as 30k for the same cc (as in the case of 1.5 Saga and 1.6 Sentra). Protonvirtually  monopolised the domestic car market by virtue of Government’s instrument. The Proton sales people were so arrogant, you either take it or leave it. The situation got so bad, it came to a stage where a second hand Proton car was more expensive than a new one. Strange as it sounds, it was the scenario way back in the late 80s and early 90s. A friend of mine had to travel all the way to Terengganu to book his car in order to avoid the long queue and paying high booking fee. The true test came when Perodua came into the picture  with the resilient and durable Kancil and later Myvi. No sooner Proton lost its lead. People were tired of paying premium money for low grade cars.

Only these few years Proton began to improve the overall quality of its cars and its relationship with the cutsomers. Had Proton really build up its customers confidence  all these years and maintain the quality of its cars, it surely had no problem in maintaining its lead in the domestic market. After all it had a terrific headstart as compared to Perodua.

So to bring back Proton to its glory days is a pretty tall order as its former glory was, in my opinion, never a true glory in the first place.

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