11 April 2012

Datuk Seri Syed Zainal quits Proton?

The epitome of Malaysian company business cycle continues. Many Malaysian company has one particularly hobby: to launch a turn-around initiative or drastic re-strategy before abandoning it half-baked, half-success and most probably at the most three-quarter way. They prefer to restart from zero all over again, possibly giving them a breath of sense of working. Fake busyness maybe, or perhaps a sense of false achievement to start something fresh. Same stories perhaps is about to happen to Proton. MMN talked about this since February 2012 - refer HERE.

The strongest of all the rumors regarding Proton blew yesterday. It was said that Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin has tendered his resignation letter to Proton, effective by mid-year of 2012. While Proton official statement continues to deny such existence of news, it maybe a cover-up while waiting for the company to re-negotiate with the former Master Bumiputera CEO 2010 award holder.

The truth is, Proton transformation journey started way back in early 2006, in fact in the last quarter of 2005 when the company was headed a committee of COO, prior to Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin appointment in January 2006. Many things has happened since.

Lets talk about product first. First of all, Proton Satria Neo was given a correct cabin color late in 2005, during the late prototype stage. It was done to prevent the car from being blamed a blunder again in interior color scheme, which will highly likely to glare the owner eyes due to the massive blank of silvered bar smack in the middle of the dashboard. The sure-invite-bash pastel dashboard was changed to tempest grey too. 

The re-think about the product has actually started at about the same time of the story above. Under the leadership of Syed Zainal, the long range product planning has been revisited, and the results in the decision to develop a sedan version of the slow selling "wrong-bodystyle" Gen2 by giving it a proper 430L boot. The funny one-piece door trim has been ditched and replaced with more practical, ergonomic and easier to the eye item. Minor ergonomic and operational effort blunders has been rectified too. It is actually a car that is feasible to be owned by a commoner Malaysian, as the car need to be multi-purpose due to our incapability to own multiple cars.

Then, a true "rakyat" car was conceived. It was called Saga. Proton managed to keep the cost down by utilizing the basic architecture of another slow-seller product, the Savvy. Talk about leveraging, epitome of capitalizing on something underperforming. Despite the utilization of several cutting-edge construction technology such as TWB, by cleverly bringing the parts-bin inventory to the then standard in terms of usability and crashworthiness, the new Saga was born and can be sold cheaply. The car then managed to take the battle to the national best seller Myvi.

Exora too is a product driven by market needs. For so long, the market for low-end MPV has been dominated by the cheap lorry-underpinned MPV. Proton answered this my giving the masses a modern monocoque MPV with abundance of space from mere RM57k. Still not enough? Wait for Preve...

With the three product mentioned earlier being a prelude towards a true "new generation" of Proton car, what the politician, consumers and the investor should wait is for Proton to deploy its latest thinking and innovation in its newly developed Preve-formerly known as P3-21a or Persona R even before that. This is the effort of all this years. Judge Proton citizen by the performance and sell-ability of this particular car. Can't they wait? Talk about the epitome of Malaysian company business cycle once again...

In concurrent with the revamped product portfolio for  since 2006, don't forget about the news regarding vendor consolidation, series of after sales team improvement, ever reaching out Proton sales team, the Business Excellence Practises assessment (back in July 2011 - HERE) and few more. While there are certain dealers and service centre still in the old doldrums, many has improved actually. 

Well, MMN wonder if Proton will re-invent the wheel again. They will go through the cycle once more when the new turn-around initiative launch to turn Proton again to another half-bake success story...

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