The Proton Persona has been named Malaysia's Best Model of the Year in the 2008 Frost & Sullivan ASEAN Automotive Awards.
Launched in August last year, Persona has fast become one of the best sellers in the Proton stable.
Proton Holdings Bhd Chairman Dato' Mohammed Azlan Hashim said that the award is testimony to the company's promise to deliver "the right car, for the right market, at the right price and at the right time".
"This acknowledgement is a significant recognition for a car which has received critical and sales acclaim and is also an affirmation of Proton's commitment to produce quality value-for-money cars that meet market needs," he added.
"We are most honored with this recognition by Frost & Sullivan as best-in-class which many have given the thumbs up for its quality, design, ride and handling as well as cabin and luggage space," added Managing Director Dato Syed Zainal
Head of the respected automotive and transportation practice Frost and Sullivan Asia Pacific, Kavan Mukhtyar, said the achievement is made more commendable because Persona has marked a turning point for Proton, which resulted in improved brand image.
"It has also enhanced public trust and confidence in Proton", Mukhtyar said at the award presentation.
Proton chairman, Datuk Mohammed Azlan Hashim said the latest acknowledgement was a significant recognition for a car which underlines the improvements Proton has made in terms of quality and engineering.
"The Persona was developed with the commitment to improve every quality aspect - from design, styling and production, to sales and after-sales," said Mohammed Azlan.
"We can proudly say that the Persona is now the key driver of Proton's export optimization," he said.
The Best Model Award is part of the Frost & Sullivan ASEAN Automotive Awards and acknowledges outstanding performance by companies in the automotive industry in the ASEAN region. In addition to best models, the awards showcase best practices in safety systems, commercial vehicles, component, distribution, navigation and automotive finance segments.
Proton managing director Syed Zainal said the award is an inspiration and will motivate the company to move forward and work harder to further improve by producing better products and providing excellent services to meet customer expectations.
"Proton will continue to focus on quality improvement as we strive to better ourselves in every quality aspect," said Zainal.
"The need to raise Proton's standard of quality further and to benchmark our products with other successful vehicle manufacturers is especially important, now that we are aggressively pursuing a stronger presence in the international market," he said.
Meanwhile Proton has announced it will be designing a new vehicle to be used exclusively as a taxi under a Malaysian government plan to standardise taxis, similar to the black cab in London or yellow taxis in New York.
Under the plan, existing Malaysian taxis comprising different makes and models will gradually be phased out and replaced with a standard model that would also be powered by natural gas.
The Malaysian government has asked Proton to design a car that could be uniquely identified as a "Malaysian taxi".
"The existing taxis come in varying sizes and sometimes are not comfortable for foreigners, especially those of bigger build so we need a special model that will have the space and comfort, together with a unique design," he said.
Proton hopes to roll out the taxi model by 2010.
Syed Zainal said there are an estimated 50,000 Proton taxis on the road in Malaysia at the moment.
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