A rally version of the Proton Iriz on display at the Malaysia Autoshow 2018.

IT has now been 11 months since Zhejiang Geely Holding Group signed an agreement to acquire a 49.9 per cent stake in Proton Holdings Bhd.

Excitement is building up for the launching of Proton’s first sport-utility vehicle (SUV), which will be based on the Geely Boyue.

So far, the vehicle’s launch date has not been made known. But Proton has revealed that the SUV will be equipped with features, such as smart voice recognition, 360 3D camera, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency brake assist, just to name a few.

This is certainly exciting news for Malaysian customers, as upon release, it will be one of the most technologically-advanced models for Proton.

The arrival of the new model must also be long awaited relief for Proton dealers, who are tasked with selling models with technology that perhaps cannot be described as cutting-edge.

For example, the 2018 Proton Preve, which was recently released, has not undergone a major facelift, receiving what can perhaps best be described as a minor “upgrade” instead.

It has been reported that Proton aims for a sales target 400,000 cars by 2027. Last year, it moved less than 100,000 units.

Recently, it was reported that Proton dealers said Proton Holdings Bhd needed to improve its technology to fulfil consumer demands.

A report by Bernama quoted Pengangkutan Sedar Sdn Bhd’s Nur Shazzani Ahmad Shukri as saying that the cooperation between Proton and Geely, was a step in the right direction since the China-based company had a strong emphasis on technological development.

“Geely invests in future technologies, like electric and hybrid cars, as well as autonomous cars. Therefore, the cooperation will be good for Proton.”

Nur Shazzani is one of 30 Proton dealers who participated in a trip to the Geely Research Institute in China.

Another dealer, Louis Ng Boon Cheng from NHL Automobil Sdn Bhd, said Proton models needed to have modern features with great design to enable it to carve a niche in the market.

“This will ensure we are creating a new market with a new set of customers,” he added.

He said dealerships needed to attract people and offer aftersales services that differentiated them from their competitors.

“Everywhere we look, we can see the competition is getting tougher. People are competing for the same customers in the market. Thus, it is important to have unique offerings for customers,” he added.

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