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Proton network builds up for new model bonanza

Proton is stepping up its dealer development strategy in preparation for a range of all-new models powered by engines being developed at the company's R&D centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

However, the current dealer network still has not received supplies of the Impian 1.8-litre model, despite an original launch scheduled for the end of 2001. UK executives expect the model to be available in late summer, but could not explain the reason for the delay.

It is likely strong demand for the Impian in the company's home Malaysian market has diverted resources away from production of the 1.8-litre model. Proton has scheduled a new five-door replacement for the Wira hatchback for launch in late 2003/early 2004, followed later in the year by a new B-sector small car and a three-door replacement for the Satria hatchback. An all-new engine range, currently under development with subsidiary Lotus, will power the new models.

Called Campro, it will include up to four petrol derivatives ranging from 1.1-litre to 1.6-litre. No diesels are planned, largely because there is no demand in the important Malaysian market.

Proton has appointed three more dealers, taking the network to 120. It is looking to appoint another 20 retailers by the end of the year, with a long-term target of between 150-200. The franchised network will be supported by 30 agency dealers to plug gaps in areas that do not justify full representation.

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