Saturday, 11 August 2012

Made in Malaysia

I am proud to be Malaysian when saw few proton cars driven in Australia road.. In a way, I do feel sense of achievement that Malaysia is able to become the only car-producing country in South East Asia. 

Proton has been in existence for 27 years now. When the Proton Saga was first launched in 1985, the car was not great, but it was cheap and easy to maintain. But after 27 years the overall quality of Proton cars has not improved as much it should, in some models they have in fact gotten worse.

Recently another Asia carmaker, Hyundai which been around since 1967. Just about 20 years apart from proton now being fourth largest car manufacture after General Motors, Volkswagen and Toyota. 

When the company started making cars four decades ago, Hyundai used to make do with borrowed designs, engines, suspension and transmission technology similar to Proton. In 1974, Hyundai's Pony was the butt of jokes due to its shoddy construction, underpowered engines and boring design.

But this year, Hyundai's Elantra won America's Car of the Year award and became the world's fifth bestselling compact car. The Korean carmaker quality has improved, and it's among the leaders in fuel efficiency and styling.
Several factors underpin the dramatic transformation of South Korea's biggest carmaker.  

Hyundai started follows the advice that they were not listening enough to customers, and quality levels were an issue. There was always a mandate for quality improvement. Hyundai also started a round-the-clock “quality situation room,” collecting reports of problems from around the world and relaying them to the relevant departments.

Hyundai has invested heavily to improve design and create a luxury halo around its brand. The company decided to shed the image of a cheap car manufacturer. Their inspiration was Volkswagen which also used to build volume cars but was always seen as a premium manufacturer.

Hyundai decided that it no longer would make dingy designs and wanted something aspirational. The company gave a lot of power to the design chief and threw resources at the design department. Hyundai and Kia steered the company with the view that the whole company needed to focus on design rather than cost.

As we know, South Koreans are intensely nationalistic, this didn't prevent Hyundai from employing two foreigners to jettison their cars' then stodgy appearance. Hyundai engineered the defection of designer Christopher Chapman from BMW while Kia enticed Peter Schreyer, a designer for Volkswagen and Audi, to work for the South Korean carmaker.

To cut costs, Hyundai and Kia use common platforms and suppliers. While consistently prioritising quality over profits was the key overriding factor that has elevated Hyundai into a major global player and off set its cost via Economy of Scale.

Proton should learn from Hyundai success in order to remain competitive. As Malaysian, I want to see that  Malaysian brand successful internationally.

Note: Driving Holden Barina in Australia because it is the cheapest car i can effort

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