Malaysian automaker Proton closed 2023 with its best annual sales performance in over a decade, selling 154,611 units domestically and abroad. This represents a 9.3% increase over 2022 sales, thanks to strong demand for Proton’s SUV and sedan lineup.
The growth was driven by a resurgence in sales of Proton’s PIES models – the Persona, Iriz, Exora and Saga sedans. The Saga compact sedan led the charge as Proton’s best-selling model overall, moving 70,184 units – a 25.6% jump and its highest total since 2012. Sales of the B-segment rebounded by nearly 50% compared to 2022, which suffered from chip shortages.
Proton’s X-series SUVs also posted healthy numbers, with the popular X50 crossover topping over 31,000 units sold and leading its segment. The newly launched, larger X90 premium SUV moved 4,815 units since debuting last May. Total industry volume also hit a new record high, with Proton holding steady as Malaysia’s second best selling automaker with 19.4% market share.
“We are thankful to Malaysians for the warm reception of our products,” said Proton CEO Dr. Li Chunrong. “This success shows our commitment to stylish design, technology and safety across model lines. We look forward to sustaining this momentum in 2024 with the launch of our new S70 model.”
Proton also pointed to improvements in customer experience at dealerships as helping drive sales growth and owner loyalty. 2023 marked the fifth straight year of rising sales numbers for the resurgent Malaysian automaker. Customer deliveries of the new S70, booked by over 5,000 so far, will kick off this year and are expected to further boost Proton’s sales totals going forward.
Proton’s recent strong sales rebound in Malaysia points to resilience in the country’s auto market overall. As a domestic brand, Proton’s performance suggests Malaysian consumers have purchasing power even amidst economic uncertainty.
This bodes well for global electric vehicle players like Tesla and BYD, who both recently entered the Malaysian market. With a robust automotive landscape and economy, the conditions seem promising for these EV giants to gain a foothold by aligning products and services to local demand.
As passionate early adopters await high-end models from the likes of Tesla, and budget-conscious drivers consider BYD’s relatively affordable offerings, a diversity of consumer segments stand ready. Now it remains to be seen whether these companies can replicate their success in established EV markets by appealing to Malaysian preferences.
But Proton’s strong rebound underscores a conducive environment, both economically and consumer-wise, for international EV brands to stake their claim in Malaysia’s burgeoning electric vehicle space.