1. Recently, I officiated the first firing of the new engine for Proton. It is not often that an automotive company produces a new engine. Proton’s Campro engine is now more than 10 years old. Obviously it is no longer suitable for today’s cars. So the production of a new engine for Proton is something to celebrate.
2. But unfortunately journalists do not see the significance of this event. We used to export quite a lot of Proton cars to the UK. But 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 engines by our engineers working with RICARDO of the UK is going to make us once again able to meet the conditions in the UK and Europe. We hope to export our cars to these countries once again.
3. Incidentally the engine will only be used after rigorous testing including running for five million kilometers. It will not be until late 2017 before their installation in Proton cars. After that there will be more tests for each model. Producing a car takes a lot of time.
4. Proton is aware of the negative perception of its cars in the Malaysian market. This is especially among owners of imported cars. Nothing can persuade them to buy Proton cars. Certainly pride in a Malaysian made car is not with them.
5. But the cars we produce now are not like the cars we produced before. 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.
6. The Iriz 1.6 automatic has six airbags, doors which only open after the second pull, will not slide back when the foot is lifted from the brake on slopes etc.
7. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. And so it is with Proton’s new cars. You need to drive them to know their capability. I drive the Iriz and the Suprima S and believe me I enjoy driving them. The Iriz especially has electric powered steering. It is very light. It responds quickly to the accelerator.
8. I think Proton cars deserve a test drive by Malaysians. Tell us about your experience. Criticise these cars. We want feedbacks so we can further improve the cars.
9. I am not an engineer although I know something about engineering. Believe me it is not easy to design, build, test and produce cars. If you are familiar with jigsaw puzzles, you will understand the problem faced by our engineers and assembly workers as they put the parts together.
10. There are 4000 parts to be designed, calibrated, manufactured and put together. We are the only developing country in the world that can do all these. I think our workers and engineers deserve to be tested if not supported.
11. We are not the cause of car prices being high. What support we get from the Government is also given to other companies because of local content. We have almost 90% local content; so we pay less excise duty. But since its founding Proton has paid more than 24 billion Ringgit in taxes while receiving only 14 billion in excise duty cuts, not cash. Yes, we have received a part of the research and development grants the industries have been promised.
12. Taxes on motor vehicles are what caused the prices to be high. But Government need to tax motorists because of the roads and other infrastructures that Government has to provide.
13. It is important to remember that when you buy foreign cars, money will flow out of the country to sustain their economies, to benefit their workers.
14. When you buy a local car, money stays in the country, workers earn money, dealers and agents and their employees enjoy the business they do and the local economy grows. Thousands of families enjoy a good life.
15. Assuming that all local industries are closed, few will have money to buy imported things. We will revert into being a failed third world country.
16. Malaysia is a trading nation i.e. we export and we import. If imports exceed exports we will not grow and prosper. All the countries which export cars to Malaysia protect their markets so that Proton cannot enter them.