KUALA LUMPUR: The motor industry moved up another notch last night with the launch of the first locally made multi-purpose vehicle.
The Proton Exora was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who announced that it would be priced at RM69,998 for the medium-line and RM75,998 for the high-line models.
"The prices are competitive. I hope this will make the buyers happy."
Present were Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the former prime minister who was instrumental in launching the national car project in 1983 and is Proton advisor; International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed; Proton Holdings Bhd chairman Datuk Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh; and, Proton managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir.
Since pre-launch bookings were opened on Feb 21, orders have been received for more than 2,500 units.
"Exora's development took 18 months, from the time Proton fixed the design to the production stage. This launch proves that Proton dared to take risks to change."
Najib said the world had witnessed how the global economic crisis had taken a toll and threatened the survival of the motor industry.
Proton, he said, must take cognizance of what had happened and could not afford to remain in its comfort zone. The national carmaker must improve its competitive edge and productivity.
"Failure is not an option for Proton. We need to be brave, to get out of the conventional thinking box. To overcome any crisis, we should not become dogmatic and refuse options at an early stage," Najib said, stressing that all options must be considered in the interests of the nation.
He said Proton must look at the need for a strategic alliance to produce fuel- efficient products, utilising environmentally-friendly technology.
The prime minister reminded Proton that in the competitive local and export markets, it must always be ahead of other players.
"There is no free ride or free lunch concept in this world. We must be aware that no competitor will slow its development tempo simply to assist or wait for us to narrow the competitive gap."
At the event, three early bird customers and the winner of a "name the Proton MPV" contest got the keys to their Exora from Najib.
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