TANJUNG MALIM, Malaysia -- Malaysia's top car maker, Proton Holdings Bhd., said on Monday it aimed to halve waiting times for its latest Gen.2 sedan model to around three months by March as it battles cut-price competition from some of Asia's leading carmakers.
Proton launched the Gen.2 in February but buyers who placed some 14,000 orders by May currently wait up to six months before getting to drive the new car.
"Hopefully by Q1 (2005), we can generate enough volume so people don't have to wait too long," Kamarulzaman Darus, chief executive of Proton's new $400 million plant in northern Perak state, told reporters.
Kamarulzaman said the plant was on track to reach full capacity of 150,000 units a year by end-March 2006. It currently produces just the Gen.2 but will add two additional models.
Proton has seen its share of the home market, Southeast Asia's largest after Thailand, drop to about 46 percent in March from around 65 percent as rivals including Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. slashed prices to grab market share.
Proton's earnings dropped 31 percent to 191.55 million ringgit ($50.4 million) in the March quarter on falling sales, but it forecast a better performance in the current fiscal year.