Here’s Why Proton Did Not Succeed In Pakistan

Proton in Pakistan

Being an automotive enthusiast, it would be hard to believe that you’ve not heard the name ‘Proton’. As we all know, the Malaysian based automobile manufacturer which holds a major share in the Malaysian automotive world, came to Pakistan back in 2006 with a hope of development and expansion.  What happened to it and why they left Pakistan, that shall be highlighted in this article.

History and Origin:

Proton was officially found on 7th May 1983. The company was owned by the government of Malaysia. Proton approached Mitsubishi Motors for collaboration by 1984and signed a joint venture between both companies for the production of the first Malaysian car. The result of the collaboration was the Proton Saga, which launched on 9 July 1985. It was based on the second generation 1983 Mitsubishi Lancer 4-door saloon and was powered by a 1.3-litre Mitsubishi 4G13 engine.

Types of Cars Produced:

Mitsubishi was very helpful in the foundation of Proton. The majority of vehicle platforms, engines, parts and technical expertise were only sourced by Mitsubishi Motors. Proton’s manpower was also trained by Mitsubishi in Japan as part of the agreement. All Proton cars launched between 1985 and 2000 except of the Proton Tiara were based on Mitsubishi vehicles. Proton began producing self-designed models after 2000, but resumed product collaboration with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in 2008. The result of the renewed collaboration was the Proton Inspira, a rebadged 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer for sale exclusively in the Malaysian market. It resulted in a closer tie between Proton and Mitsubishi.

Proton Launch in Pakistan

 

Proton in Pakistan:

Proton in Pakistan was launched on 15th September 2006. The Royal Automobiles Pvt. Ltd. Were chosen as the sole distributors and representatives of Proton Vehicles. The cars chosen to launch in Pakistan were the Saga, Wira, Gen 2 and Impian. Below, you’ll find the model specifications and prices at the time of launch in 2006.

Saga:

Proton Saga Pakistan  Proton Saga Pakistan  Proton Saga Pakistan

Proton Saga Pakistan  Proton Saga Pakistan

The Proton Saga was a 4 door mini sedan powered by a Mitsubishi 1300cc carby engine mated to a 5 speed gearbox. It was the least expensive car by Proton at that time and came equipped with all basic features like the power windows, locks and aircon. More to that, it was available with a CNG variant as well. It was very economically priced at that time:
Saga 1.3 M/T @ Rs. 649,000
Saga 1.3 M/T (CNG) @ Rs. 679,000

Wira:

Proton Wira Pakistan  Proton Wira Pakistan  Proton Wira Pakistan

Proton Wira Pakistan
The Wira was a full sized 4 door sedan. It had a 1500cc electronic fuel injection engine and had all of the electric features like keyless entry, power steering, windows and an audio system. It also came in 2 variants. Its prices were:
Wira 1.5 M/T @ Rs. 729,000
Wira 1.5 M/T (CNG) @ Rs. 769,000

 Gen 2:

Proton Gen 2 Pakistan  Proton Gen 2 Pakistan  Proton Gen 2 Pakistan

Proton Gen 2 Pakistan

Stepping ahead of the previous 2 models, the Gen 2 was a uniquely designed car. It was offered in 5 variants which gave the buyer an option of 2 engine, 2 gearboxes and optional CNG as well. The Gen 2 was equipped with exclusive features which are not even offered now by the local cars of Pakistan. The top of the line variant had ABS, dual airbags, MID meters and other features were standard. It came with 2 engines, a 1300cc efi and a 1600cc efi with automatic and manual transmissions. CNG was optional in all manual transmissions. The price line of Gen 2 was:

Gen 2 1.3 M/T @ Rs. 849,000
Gen 2 1.3 M/T (CNG) @ Rs. 889,000
Gen 2 1.3 A/T @ Rs. 898,000
Gen 2 1.6 M/T @ Rs. 949,000
Gen 2 1.6 M/T (CNG) @ Rs. 999,000

 Impian:

Proton Impian Pakistan  Proton Impian Pakistan  Proton Impian Pakistan

Proton Impian Pakistan  Proton Impian Pakistan

The flagship of the Proton vehicle lineup in Pakistan was the Impian. It was the most powerful and expensive model offered by Proton. It came with a 1600cc DOHC engine with optional auto or manual transmission. It had every feature of a luxury sedan and outclassed all the locally manufactured cars in Pakistan in that era. Its prices were:
Impian 1.6 M/T @ Rs. 1,049,000
Impian 1.6 A/T @ Rs. 1,125,000

Public Response:

The potential buyers in market were very confused regarding the few factors that are related while buying a new car. Those who took the step of purchasing a Proton were really very happy with it. The consumer reports we gathered say that 90% of the people who bought a Proton vehicle were satisfied with it, including the value for money.

The Gen 2 gained most of the popularity among all others and considerably more units of Gen 2 were sold than the remaining 3 combined. The public was really impressed by the quality of the Proton vehicles as compared to the quality of the local vehicles. The pricing was also very economical as compared to the local vehicle lineup at that time, given the features and options you could get in that budget.

Unfortunately, the public backed off from this new venture due to some obvious reasons such as poor after sale services and incompetent mechanical services provided by the company and poor resale in the market.

Was Exiting Pakistan The Right Strategy for Proton?

Pakistani automobile market has a lot of potential, but the consumer pattern is quite unorthodox here. Some would prefer resale, while others would go for the most unique car. Where one would want fuel economy, the other would want a gas guzzling V8; just for the sake of being an attraction to the public. Therefore, it would be wrong to say that resale was the only reason to the Proton’s end.

Coming to the after sale services of the company, the Royal Automobiles, who were the representatives of Proton here had provided sufficient infrastructure for the best 3S dealings but unfortunately, what they lacked was competent man power. The mechanical labor was gathered randomly and were not trained as much as they should have been, so that they could properly manage the after sale servicing.

Eventually, after facing a huge losses in the investment, Proton packed up and left. It’s not like they had any other options back then, but exceptions are always present. Looking at the number of used imported cars on the road, it seems that if Proton had improved on their after sales and quality of labor, they could have been a great company. They just had to have a long term plan and vision, as it takes a lot of time for the people in Pakistan to accept new things. But they eventually do. A long run vision is always more beneficial for a firm or company since all the factors induced are variable. They could have invested some more time and money tying to tie the loose ends of their enterprise rather than winding up and going back.

In the future, if some other company has to step and compete in our local industry, they have to keep in mind the long run vision and working at full potential. Once they make their place, they’ll surely be successful.

Fahad Mehmood

Fahad Mehmood is an ardent car enthusiast and a photographer by profession. He's been an active PakWheels member since the beginning. When he's not writing about cars, he's shooting people and things with his camera. He hopes to go viral one day.

  • Mobiiii

    Car look really good for 2006. There was something to take auto market to next level.
    Conservative Pakistani minds who always prefer buying Carolla and Honda are sole responsible for higher price and less feature problem. See suzuki? They are still ripping off our money with tin dabas and some medieval ancient cars.
    Point is companies are exploiting our trust in them and are selling ancient stuff with no features that too at higher cost.
    Pakistanis should learn to move on and make new choice to make market competitive.
    A brand new example is that FAW are giving excellent cars with good money value. They should also maintain good after sales service to survive else they would end up like proton.
    I hope they don’t.
    I wish Proton had survived and we’d have value for hard earned money.
    I freaking hate suzuki for ripping poor Pakistanis off. I wish they die a horrible death.

  • Exactly. Out people need to be a little open minded when it comes to buying cars. I agree, FAW is very good brand compared to the Pakistani variants of Toyota, Honda and Suzuki. I wish they succeed and bring sub-1000cc cars, because there is a huge gap in that market and any manufacturer with good offering can fill this gap.

  • Fahad Mehmood

    The majority of people here just follow the conventional trends and none of them tend to explore something new or better. Like some homeopathy or hikmat believers, who would never go for other, modern and better ways of treatment.

  • Kamran Usman

    Frankly Proton only did a half-baked effort in Pakistan market. You need at least two years of good service in any business to see the results which Proton did not do for some reason.

  • Hamail

    My uncle is the owner of this ride (Proton Gen 2) and now he is facing a great problem because no one is buying his car even for 4 lakhs. Secondly, the ride can’t beat Honda or corolla because seats are not very comfortable. The accelerator is hard to press and the manual gear shifting is very hard. Once the AC compressor of this car became faulty and we imported it. The AC compressor costed 35 thousand rupees. So being the driver of this ride, I recommend you that “Please don’t buy it”.
    I have a Honda civic 2002 VTI ORIEL PROSMATEC and proton is very bad if compared to this. So please don’t go for proton. It’s my brotherly suggestion otherwise it’s up to you.

  • OJ

    Every consumer market is volatile and when you are entering a market, you have to understand consumers and their preferences. First of all Proton launched too many models, they should have launched only one and concentrated all their resources on it. Secondly this is a fact consumers are finicky about re sale value and this phenomena is not only in Pakistan, it is prevalent all over the world. They should have devised a strategy to assure consumers Proton would not do what they eventually did, i.e runaway, after having a number of consumers invest in their vehicles. Toyota, Honda and Suzuki are very strong brands in our country in order to break their monopoly the new entrants will have to change the landscape of the auto industry. Give better equipped cars, better made with more features along with excellent after sales services and most importantly assure customers that you are here to stay, assure them that they will assist the consumers in all aspects related to their vehicles, maintenance, after sales service, even trade in programs to help resale.
    A classic case study would be Lexus and how it made it to mainstream in 1990s and follow that model

  • that is all because proton backed off from Pakistan… if they were still in business here, there would have been easier access to spare parts.

    btw was that gas paddle issue there when you bought the car? I think that could be fixed by loosing the throttle cable… or maybe gas paddle sticking somehow… and yes no one is buying proton 🙂

  • Qasim57

    Proton could have been great, in Pakistan.

    They offer good performance at a reasonable price. We should help a fellow Muslim country by spending our $$$ developing their industry, rather than Japan or European manufacturers(who charge alot of $$$, and still don’t provide Transfer-of-Technology).

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