EON says that optional accessories can be left out if customers don't want them......
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It is understood that Proton has taken a strong stand concerning the optional accessories which cost a total of RM2,258 and bump the price past RM61,200 for the Waja 1.6 with manual transmission. This has been a sensitive issue for consumers for many years and Proton has been mainly concerned about any possible technical problems that may result from the installation of accessories at dealer level.
According to Donald Choo, EON Executive Director (Motor Group), the ten items listed as optional accessories have been approved by Proton for the Waja and they are ‘non-technical’ items. He confirmed that customers are under no obligation to accept the accessories and also confirmed that there is no such thing as ‘orders from top management’ to force optional accessories on Waja customers. Many customers have complained that they are told that there is no possibility to omit the accessories and the experience by AUTOWORLD.COM.MY staff also shows this to be the case.
“Other than the six factory-installed items - power windows, central locking, air-conditioner, radio-cassette player, anti-rust treatment and alarm - customers do not have to take anything else if they don’t wish to,” he told AUTOWORLD.COM.MY. “They can take one item, all of them or none. They are shown on our price list as ‘optional accessories’ and so there is a choice to take them or not.”
However, Mr Choo also explained that because the salesmen do derive some commission from the sale of accessories, they will naturally try to persuade customers to take the accessories so as to earn more money. He advised any customers who were unable to get the accessories to get clarification from the branch manager and if they still found problems, to call up the EON Hotline (1-800-883003 or 03-7002388) and get assistance.
“Please sort out the matter before signing the order form because once you sign it, it will be very difficult to get the items omitted. It would be assumed that if you sign the order, you are agreeable to the inclusion of the accessories,” he said.
The same would apply to financing which the authorities have now made clear is up to customers whether they want to accept the companies on EON’s panel or they want to get their own financing. For convenience and speed, it would seem that using one of the finance companies recommended by EON would be best as the communication would be faster. Furthermore, if you have problems later on, you can always get assistance from EON.
Mr Choo, however, emphasised that his comment were only made with respect to EON’s policy and he could not speak for USPD, the other distributor of the Waja. Previously, EON and USPD sold different models but with the Waja, Proton has decided that both distributors would sell the model. USPD is now owned by Proton after the manufacturer acquired DRB’s stake in the joint-venture that originally started with the Satria in 1994.
Although we phoned the office of a senior executive of USPD and explained that we had questions relating to this matter, AUTOWORLD.COM.MY was instructed to fax its questions to USPD’s head office before they were willing to give answers. A request was made to respond by 4 pm but by this deadline (which was about 45 minutes from the time of the fax), no reply was received either by fax or telephone. It’s unusual that an answer cannot be given as the matter is quite straightforward, as shown by EON’s Mr Choo’s immediate responses (he was actually busy in a meeting when we called his office).
It is therefore uncertain what position USPD has concerning this matter (according to one customer who spoke to AUTOWORLD.COM.MY today, the USPD price list does not state that the accessories package is ‘optional’, unlike that issued by EON). However, as mentioned earlier, Proton is also giving attention to the issue and according to a source, the manufacturer will ‘take action’ against any company which does not allow customers to buy Wajas without the optional accessories. So if you feel strongly about being forced to take the accessories, perhaps you can go to an EON showroom instead or notify Proton.
Waiting list lengthening
It’s been typical of any national car launched that demand is very high and the waiting list very quickly lengthens. The Perdana case was probably the worst where conservative projections led to a lower production volume and customers had to wait about a year for their car.
For the Waja, the rate of orders being signed may well see delivery times extending to as long as four months. In fact, Mr Choo predicted this when asked by AUTOWORLD.COM.MY today. “Just before the launch, we told our salesmen that they can tell customers the waiting period will be one to two months. But the way things are going - and we have already received 1,500 orders - I expect that it will be three to four months now,” said Mr Choo. He also predicted that within two months, EON may already have sold out its entire allocation for this year as the present rate of output from the plant is around 2,000 units a month. EON and USPD get equal shares of this output each month.
It is normal practice for factories to build up stocks of a few months before launching a car but it seems that Proton has been eager to make the Waja available to the public quickly and has almost no buffer stock. And although the solution would be to increase output, this cannot be speedily done. Furthermore, the different nature of assembly of the Waja - modular assembly - has required that it be made in a second facility within the Proton complex in Shah Alam, Selangor. This relatively new 40,600 sq. metre facility presently has a capacity of 50,000 units a year and was built for Waja production. Should more volume be needed, it will not be possible to decrease output of Wira or Perdana models and use their lines as they are assembled in the larger 100,000 sq metre factory which uses processes that are different.
Future of the Wira
The pricing of the Waja has surprised Malaysians, who had expected a higher price. However, it also has implications on the Wira and it is likely that a review will be done on its future. Mr Choo said that demand for the Wira 1.5 has generally been higher than for the Wira 1.6 sedan, which has been purchased more by corporate buyers. Statistics show that Wira 1.6 sedan sales amount to only about 300 units a month.
“Although many people will compare the price of the Waja 1.6 to the Wira 1.6 sedan, we do not expect any major changes in buying patterns as demand for the Wira 1.5 has always been higher,” he revealed. “What happens to the Wira 1.6 sedan is not decided yet but Proton has told us that they will supply the version as long as the demand remains. At this time, there is no decision on stopping the Wira 1.6.”
Datuk Adzmi Abdul Wahab, EON’s MD, has also said that those who have paid deposits for the Wira may have an opportunity to switch their orders to the Waja, if they wish. The company is now looking into the matter and will make an announcement in due course.