With over 7,000 of its cars already on the road, Proton is set to launch its maiden multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) Exora in the Thai market at the Thailand International Motor Expo next week.

Based on initial feedback from the media and industry experts, Phranakorn Auto Sales general manager (operations) Apichart Wangsatorntanakhun said they were expecting a good response from Thai buyers.

“We took more than a dozen journalists to test the Exora in Malaysia. Exora received excellent reviews from the media, as well as those who came for discussion with us and saw the car at our showroom,” he said in an interview here.

The Nation daily, in its review Friday said that Exora, with good handling and ride balance for its class, combined with versatile interior, was a good value as a family-mover against the smaller Toyota Avanza and the pricey Honda Freed.

Proton made its entry into the Japanese manufacturers-dominated Thai market at the end of 2007 to take advantage of the low five per cent import duty imposed under the Asean Free Trade Area agreement. Phranakorn was appointed as its official distributor.

According to Apichart, Exora’s competitive pricing matched with quality, interior design and various accessories like leather seats and DVD player would enable it to compete with other MPVs in the market.

“It’s value for money…it’s similar to what Japanese manufacturers have been doing and is their secret for success. But now, their cars are a bit over priced,” he said, adding that Honda Freed launched here two weeks ago was priced at between 894,000 Baht and 1,074,500 Baht (RM1 = 10 Baht).

Apichart said the 1.6-litre engine with five-speed manual or four-speed automatic Exora in five colours would hit the market in the price range between 699,000 Baht to 799,000 Baht.

Launched on April 15 in Malaysia, the Exora model has received 26,000 bookings todate, and 17,000 units were already registered in the domestic market there, as well as making its debut in Indonesia and Singapore.

Apichart said since its entry into the highly-competive market, Proton had sold more than 7,000 cars, with the top model being Savvy.

Asked on Phranakorn’s sales target for Exora, Apichart said they had set a high target but declined to reveal.

“Overall, we hope to get about 900 bookings for all our models during the motor show.

“In fact, we are giving free insurance and free leather seats for Savvy buyers,” he said.

Last year, Proton, which has 35 dealers nationwide, received 863 bookings during the popular expo attended by more than 1.5 million people. There were 14,000 orders.

Other Proton models available here are Neo, Gen 2, Persona and Persona CNG.
He said the overall sales was good, considering the weak Thai automotive market where sales dropped by 20 per cent for passenger cars and 28 per cent for pick-ups. — BERNAMA