Proton has achieved a new milestone for its business, as the first locally-assembled Saga has rolled off the assembly line at the Al-Haj Automotive’s Karachi plant in Pakistan.
The green field production plant, announced in March 2019, was built at a cost of USD20 million and has an initial annual capacity of 25,000 units. The potential sales volume of the Pakistan market makes it a critical part of Proton’s plan to grow exports in the future, and the carmaker has stationed 20 manufacturing staff at the site to assist in the operation.
Speaking during the line-off ceremony, Al-Haj Automotive CEO, Hilal Khan Alfridi said, “The successful assembly of the Proton Saga in Pakistan is the culmination of the hard-work and untiring efforts of Proton, the entire Al-Haj team, its suppliers and vendors.
“Even with Covid-19 restrictions in place, we continued to push to build our new assembly plant and as such, we are confident it will set new industry standards and enable us to introduce more products that meet the international quality levels set by Proton.”
Following the Saga, Al-Haj Automotive will also be assembling the Proton X70 at the site, with a tentative roll-off scheduled to happen in December 2021. The C-segment SUV was initially launched in Pakistan as a CBU model in December 2020, with a plan to begin local assembly by the first quarter of 2021 – but Covid-19 restrictions means that the original schedule had to be delayed.
As the firm finalises its plans to begin local assembly, the final 154 units of the Proton X70 was shipped to Pakistan on Sunday, 17 October 2021, bringing the total number of CBU units exported to the country to 602.
“Despite Covid-19 severely affecting our project timelines in Pakistan, demand for Proton models in the country remains high for both the Proton Saga and Proton X70 attracting a strong following. Al-Haj has received 2,500 orders for the Saga and over 2,000 orders have been placed for the X70, so we wish to thank the customers for their belief in our products and especially their patience and understanding over the delays in receiving their cars,” said Proton Edar CEO, Roslan Abdullah.
“Now that the final shipment of CBU units is on the way and local assembly has started for the Saga with the X70 to roll off the production line before the end of the year, we can finally work to catch up to market demand. This will allow Al-Haj Automotive and Proton to establish a strong market presence in the country to benefit future sales growth.”
Proton previously announced its aims to grow its presence in overseas markets, with a sales target of 400,000 units by 2027.