KUALA LUMPUR: Proton Holdings Bhd announced that it resumed exporting cars to the Middle East, marking its first entry since formalising its partnership with China-based automaker, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

Proton deputy chief executive officer Datuk Radzaif Mohamed said the first shipment consist of 453 Proton cars will arrive in Aqaba, Jordan which will then be distributed to Iraq and other neighbouring countries.

“This ceremony marks a starting point for Proton as we resume and ramp up shipments to the Middle East in the coming months. We expect our export market to have a positive outlook in the future so be prepared for more such announcements from as early as August this year,” he said in a statement today.

A symbolic flag-off ceremony was held at Westports Malaysia’s berthing area to commemorate the occasion, with Proton cars lined up to be driven on board the Grand Diamond cargo vessel.
Proton chief executive officer Dr Li Chunrong said the Middle East markets hold high regard for products from Islamic countries like Malaysia.

“The demand for cars will grow as their economies develop and will help fuel the growth of our export business. The Asean market however will remain as the main priority for Proton’s export business so we are excited about the opportunities available in the region,” he said.

Dr Li said the national carmaker would also leverage on Geely’s extensive overseas network operations to increase the cost effectiveness of its own operations.

“We are exploring all opportunities to grow export volumes for Proton. Geely is making a big effort to support us in this initiative and there is a lot of experience within the group so we hope to leverage on it to enable us to sell more cars outside of Malaysia,” added Dr Li.

Radzaif said active owner clubs in the region were enthusiastic, despite the slow-down in exports over the past few years.

He said the national carmaker’s enthusiasm to grow its export market is backed by improvements to its product quality.

“Proton has always strive to produce high-quality products for our domestic and export markets but the collaboration with Geely has introduced a new quality mindset along with a shared quality audit system that is also used by Volvo.

“Using it as a roadmap we have managed to lower our demerit points threefold as we aim to deliver ever better cars to our customers,” he added.

Since the implementation of Global Customer Product Audit (GCPA) system on its production processes, the number of demerit points registered has seen threefold improvement.
Based on a sliding scale where smaller scores equates to better quality, the current GCPA score for Proton as at the end of June 2018 is 1763 demerit points, with a year-end target of 1500.
Proton said the point’s compares favourably with Geely and Volvo who also use GCPA and have current scores of 1200 and 850 points.

Westports chief executive officer Eddie Lee said the port operator was excited to partner Proton in its efforts to export cars all over the world, particularly as its last major export to Egypt back in 2015.

“We believe Westports’ partnership with our customers like Proton together with shipping agents like Sunship will further strengthen both brands, and help ensure cars sent over are in pristine condition,” he said.

Source : New Straits Times