Fleet News

Proton prepares to give up pursuing fleet sales

PROTON is all but axing its interest in the fleet market and is instead hoping to recoup sales through a manufacturer-led retail sales drive. The Malaysian manufacturer has abandoned the rental sector, a decision which resulted in its sales falling from 11,381 in 1997 to 7,269 at the end of last year.

This was largely due to the collapse of the Malaysian economy which led to a scheme to ship rental cars back to the Far East backfiring. The deal saw 3,500 Personas placed with the daily rental market on short cycle to be bought back at a guaranteed price, before shipping abroad. The collapse meant the cars had to be disposed of in the UK.

To try to boost sales, Proton is turning its back on the fleet market, whether rental, leasing or company business, and is instead embarking on a retail sector campaign. This began with a huge price reduction, with vehicles being slashed in value by about £2,000 and now the manufacturer is to sell cars directly to customers in a pilot project in the Midlands.

Proton's Midlands retail plan will see four managers covering traditional dealership areas, based at home and reporting to the manufacturer's Coventry dealership for sales and aftersales service. They will sell the cars directly to customers on a 'doorstep' basis. The manufacturer believes this will see its Coventry dealership sales increase from about 200 this year to 400, without the cost of any satellite franchise dealerships.

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