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Proton expands its range in recruitment drive

Proton hopes expansion of its range will help it recruit more dealers in the next few years.

In 2010 the Malaysian brand will introduce a seven-seater MPV to target family motorists. Named the Exora, the MPV will have a 1.6-litre petrol engine, fold-flat rear seats and elementary safety systems. It is likely to be priced below £14,000 to compete with the Kia Carens. 

Proton is also in a joint venture with Detroit Electric to introduce electric-powered variants of its Gen-2 and Gen-2 Persona models. The vehicles will have a range of around 200 miles and will probably have a list price of around £14,000.

The developments are hoped to help build up the network and drive Proton’s UK sales to around 2,000 units. 

Simon Park, general manager of sales and marketing, said: “The new models will help us get some dealers on board. We’re particularly looking for dealers in city centres. The electric car will help us get into the city centre dealers rather than the rural locations we typically work with.”

He aims to appoint up to 10 new dealers this year, although most of those will be replacements for retailers leaving the network.

“The cost of our franchise is almost nil so dealers really have little need to get rid of us. Our rewards are reasonable, so if the dealer can sell 15 to 20 cars per year and get £1,000 margin per car why drop the franchise?” he added.

Park said the scrappage scheme is selling “around one extra car per week” for each of Proton’s dealers. The discount puts Gen-2 on the market from £6,995. Customers were trading in old Protons as well as other brands, such as ageing Mitsubishis. 

However, he predicted a sharp fall-off in scrappage sales for all manufacturers after the initial month or so of
the scheme. 

“The date before which old cars have to be registered does not change as it goes along, so if someone is going to use scrappage they will probably do it within the first few weeks of launch,” he added.

Park said the £8,295 Savvy could not compete with the cheaper Hyundai i10 on price after the scrappage discount, but he hoped it would pick up sales if Hyundai’s supplies began to run low through the summer.

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