Case Study: Proton
Syllabus elements: 2.3, 2.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, 3.11
Proton is an abbreviation of the Malay for “National Automobile Enterprise”. The company was formed in 1983 under the direction of Malaysia’s Prime Minister as a manufacturer of cars, largely from Mitsubishi designs. At first the cars were simply assembled from parts imported from Japan, but within a few years, as the Malaysian manufacturing infrastructure improved, the components could be sourced locally in increasing quantities until finally the company could manufacture virtually the entire car within Malaysia. By the early 21st century, Proton was designing its own cars from scratch.
At first ...view middle of the document...
Poor sales forced the company to withdraw from Ireland and from China, and also from New Zealand. The company had chiefly aimed its export efforts at countries which also drive on the left, which of course limited the possibilities. Under the slogan, “Japanese technology – Malaysian style” Proton had some success in the UK, but competed largely on price and suffered from an old-fashioned brand image – many younger drivers thought of Proton as being a cheap car for elderly people, which of course was a little unfair.
Entering the US market was a highly-desirable corporate objective for a while, but this idea also collapsed when it turned out that Proton could not make the hundreds of changes necessary to meet US safety and environment legislation, or indeed the regulations imposed by US insurance companies.
Attempts to establish working partnerships with foreign manufacturers also proved difficult. Talks with Volkswagen, under which Proton would have access to VW technology in exchange for VW taking up spare capacity at a Proton factory and thus...