Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Copycat Proton

I did make my way to Bandar Sri Damansara to attend the Speecom Toastmasters meeting this evening since I had already agreed to be the General Evaluator. And I was also asked to help out by taking on another role as Evaluator for Fan Chen Keat, ACG CL who delivered an Advanced speech. By the way, this is my 49th club that I have visited this year and I am glad I went because I enjoyed the meeting. Anyway, I am grateful for Lim who brought me there and Kon Chee Min for giving me a lift back.

Proton organized a soft launch of their new Inspira model on October 14, 2010 with their group managing director Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir declaring that “The best way to launch a car… is through smart collaborations”. The collaboration was apparently with Mitsubishi Motor Corp of Japan. The only issue I have is that Proton is introducing a new car that is not a new model – so, what collaboration are we talking about? Now, when you add the adjective “smart”, I begin to wonder even more. Don’t blame me but if I correctly read the Star news report (Webpage
http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/10/15/business/7228385&sec=business), the Proton Inspira is a re-badged Mitsubishi Lancer GT. So yes, I suppose you can say that it is smart of Proton to just copy this model. And this version will be tentatively priced from RM79,888 to RM95,000.

But the Kinabatangan MP, Bung Moktar Radin slammed Proton for going backwards. “I don’t see any new changes in Proton,” he protested. I think he was upset because it is a knockoff – it is a Mitsubishi masquerading as an Inspira. And I can understand his distress because as proud Malaysians, I hide my head in shame to know that our national car company is nothing but a copycat. So, when he says “this is very embarrassing for the country” (The Sun, October 19, 2010, p 3), I sense the same dampening disappointment too.

Syed Zainal admitted that it would cost Proton as much as RM700 million to develop a new car from the ground up but only half the amount via collaborations. So Proton chose the easy and cheap way out.

I can also understand if Malaysians are peeved because a final version of the Inspira wasn’t even available for display and only the front end of the car was revealed to the media (Star, October 15, 2010). And knowing Proton, it won’t be an exact Mitsubishi replica, it will be just a cheap clone. It is a Proton after all.

Photo credit: http://www.mitsubishi-motors.com.my/gallery/lancer.jpg

Since I am on the subject of cars, do check out the Mitsubishi Motors website. It features the dapper Lancer 2.0 GT and it is one snazzy car. It has a bold and sporty front that accentuates its pronounced aerodynamic exterior. And it’s powered by an impressive 2.0-liter MIVEC engine with lightweight aluminium block and INVECS-III CVT. I am not a 'car' person but in simple English, I take it to mean that its engine and transmission are one of a kind. And on-the-road price (without insurance) for this model in Malaysia is RM123,980 (Webpage http://www.mitsubishi-motors.com.my/showroom-lancer-peninsular.php, accessed today). I don’t believe that the Inspira will be even remotely close to this model – but hey, a Proton, no matter how hard it tries, can never be a Mitsubishi! Well, at least not one that is still on the road!

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