Suprima Just The Start Of New Product Wave: Proton Australia Photo:

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Peter Anderson | Dec, 09 2013 | 3 Comments

Proton Australia marketing manager Billy Falconer says the the brand's home office has 'turned over a new leaf' and will be taking this market very seriously in the future.

Speaking with TMR at this week's Suprima and Exora drive event, Falconer confirmed plans for a new model every quarter, right into the middle of 2015.

With a cash injection from Proton HQ in Malaysia, and more new models on the horizon, the local arm is targeting one percent of every segment that it plays in.

"We know it's a tough ask, we know it's a tough industry. We need to look for that edge...and for customers to know that Proton has a presence in Australia," Falconer said.

Part of this strategy is a substantial expansion of the dealer network, from ten earlier this year through to fifty dealers by the end of 2014, with a particular focus on NSW and the ACT.

Those dealers will have a much-expanded range to peddle and, by 2015, a range with 5-Star ANCAP ratings on every car.

The Prevé and Suprima S will also be updated in 2014, joined by by a heavily revised Exora and a new global light car.

Manual transmissions will also be introduced for the GXR models in the Suprima and Prevé lines.

Additionally, the Suprima S range will grow with the introduction of an 'R3' model (Race, Rally, Research), and an upgrade to a 2.0 litre turbo.

Falconer also highlighted the October sales performance of the Exora, which took 31 sales in the people-mover market - far from the top (Kia's Carnival still owns the segment, with 201 sales in October), but a solid innings.

Proton sees the people-mover market as underrated, but understands that the Exora's 4-Star rating will hold it back.

"Safety is paramount with Proton, as indicated with the vehicles we've recently launched."

"The issue we've suffered with is purely that we're not telling people about our product. All our ads have looked different; there was no brand recognition, which is something we're addressing.

Proton will launch a set of print and television advertisements in Australia, with a thirty-second TV spot to re-establish the brand, and separate fifteen second spots for each model.

"We understand there's competitors out there with similar pricing, but when you compare feature for feature, you're moving up into the next range and paying a fair bit more."

Fans of the Jumbuck might be disappointed, though...

"Proton does have a Jumbuck that they can build on the Exora platform. But, under DRB-Hicom, unless there's a business case that stacks up, they won't proceed with it," Falconer said.

"The volume they will receive from that car worldwide, it just doesn't stack up at the moment. It's not to say it won't eventuate - it's just that at this stage, it won't be in the plans."

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