CMH to relaunch Proton in SA

JSE-listed vehicle retailer, Combined Motor Holdings (CMH), has been appointed the importer and distributor of Proton vehicles for Southern Africa.

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Jebb McIntosh, CEO of CMH, says the group has been working on becoming the importer and distributor of Proton for the past six months and the appointment was made during the past week with a signed agreement in place.

“We are very excited about this opportunity, which gives us a whole lot of extra opportunities in our market. Proton is now positioned as an affordable luxury motor car,” he says.

Proton models were previously marketed and sold in South Africa about 10 years ago.

McIntosh says the first shipment of models, comprising the Proton X50 and X70, is expected to go on sale in September this year and will be followed by the Proton Saga, a smaller affordable saloon car.

The Proton X50 is one of the new models that CMH will introduce in South Africa.

“Both the X50 and X70 sit at the top of their class in terms of specifications but will be sold at prices lower than or equivalent to their rivals. Assuming the exchange rate stays reasonably consistent to where it stands now, we expect to be able to market these cars for between R450 000 and R600 000,” he says.

McIntosh says Proton is a division of Geely Holdings, a Fortune Global 500 company, which is the ninth largest automotive manufacturer in the world.

He says Volvo, London electric taxi and Polestar are all 100% owned by Geely, and Lotus and Zeekr are also Geely products.

McIntosh says Geely’s strategy is to borrow Volvo technology and sell it in a more affordable format through the Geely brand in global left hand drive markets and Proton in right hand drive markets.

He says Proton models are assembled in Malaysia and will make use of the new generation of energy-efficient drive trains, which are very closely related to Volvo drive trains.

McIntosh reckons CMH will market the Proton products nationally through its existing dealer network and third-party dealerships in areas where CMH dealerships are not represented.

“We are aiming to get up to about 25 dealers within six months, probably half ourselves and half outside dealers, and we will be hoping to get 10 units a month in sales from those dealerships.

“We are looking forward in the short to medium term at 3 000 units sales a year but it obviously depends on how Proton is accepted by the marketplace,” he says.

McIntosh says several smaller Proton models will be coming through, apart from the X90 model that will be coming out at the beginning of next year.

He added that CMH does not expect a large contribution to earnings from the Proton import and distributorship business this year because of all the set-up costs of getting this venture off the ground.

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