The former Prime Minister wants to know about the experience of local motorists after test driving Proton cars, their criticisms and feedback so that the company can make improvements.

KUALA LUMPUR: There are 4,000 parts to be designed, calibrated, manufactured and put together in manufacturing a car, said former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. “We are the only developing country in the world that can do all these.”

“Our workers and engineers deserve to be tested, if not supported.”

Mahathir agreed that he was not an engineer but claims that he knows something about engineering. “It’s not easy to design, build, test and produce cars.”

“Those familiar with jigsaw puzzles will understand the problem faced by our engineers and assembly workers as they put the parts together.”

When foreign cars come into the country, added Mahathir, money will flow out of the country to sustain their economies, to benefit their workers. “When people buy a local car, money stays in the country, workers earn money, dealers and agents and their employees enjoy more business and the local economy grows.”

“Thousands of families enjoy a good life.”

Assuming that all local industries are closed, warned the former Prime Minister, few will have money to buy imported things. “We will revert to being a failed and Third World country.”
Malaysia is a trading nation, it exports and imports, stressed Mahathir. “If imports exceed exports, we will not grow and prosper. All the countries which export cars to Malaysia protect their markets. Proton cannot enter these markets.”

He conceded that Proton was aware of the negative perception of its cars in the local market. “This is especially among owners of imported cars. Nothing can persuade them to buy Proton cars.”

The cars being produced now by Proton are not like the cars produced before, assured Mahathir. “They are much improved and often have more features than other cars in the same category. In fact, the low-priced Protons have features normally found in higher-priced cars.”

The Iriz 1.6 automatic, a case in point, has six airbags, doors which only open after the second pull, and will not slide back when the foot is lifted from the brake on slopes etc.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, admitted Mahathir. ” Drive them to know their capability. I drive the Iriz and the Suprima S. I enjoy driving them. The Iriz especially has electric-powered steering. It’s very light. It responds quickly to the accelerator.”

Proton cars deserve a test drive by Malaysians, argued Mahathir. “Tell us about your experience. Criticise these cars. We want feedback so that we can further improve the cars.”

Mahathir wanted to give an update on the first firing of the new engine for Proton. “It’s not often that an automotive company produces a new engine.”

Proton’s Campro engine was now more than 10 years old, he pointed out. “Obviously, it’s no longer suitable for today’s cars. So, the production of a new engine for Proton was something to celebrate.”

Unfortunately, journalists did not see the significance of the event, lamented Mahathir. “We used to export quite a lot of Proton cars to the UK. However, since the introduction of new emission and fuel-efficiency standards, we have not been able to sell any Proton cars in the UK.”

The development of the new Proton engine by local engineers working with RICARDO of the UK will help the company to meet conditions in the UK and Europe, he said. “We hope to export our cars to these countries once again.”

The engine will only be used after rigorous testing including running for five million kilometers, continued Mahathir. “It will not be until late 2017 before they are installed in Proton cars. After that, there will be more tests for each model.”

Mahathir also touched on car prices in the country. “We are not the cause of car prices being high. What support we get from the government was also given to other companies because of local content.”

Proton, according to Mahathir, has almost 90 per cent local content. “So, we pay less excise duty.”

Taxes on motor vehicles have caused prices to be high, he said. “The government needs to tax motorists because of the roads and other infrastructures that it has to provide.”

Since its founding, Proton has paid more than RM24 billion in taxes while receiving only RM14 billion in excise duty cuts, not cash, estimates Mahathir. “Yes, we have received a part of the research and development grants that industries have been promised.”

-Free Malaysia Today-

Post a Comment