asean automotive

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Some market snippets.........

Again I apologize for not updating the blog. A severe time constraint has diverted my passion towards blogging to catching up things as fast as possible. I am still in tune with the auto market though, keeping abreast with the likes of Smart, GM's and even Proton. Speaking abt Proton, it is certainly the most talked about stories in Malaysian automotive scene at the moment.

Proton recovery imminent?

To address the waning interest of Proton cars and to stem the further slide in market share and stock prices, Proton has undertaken fresh inititaives under the helm of the new CEO. Proton has collaborated with almost everybody in the auto industry. The alliance with VW has been revived, partnership with Mitsubishi would resume, engine sourcing from Petronas is happening and entry into China and Indian market is imminent. It is heartening to see some things in place, and now lets see some actions.

Others gaining momentum?

Alfa Romeo has started to beef up its sales initiatives beginning with enhancing its parts and services division. A good move indeed - when the brand is plagued by issue of parts unavailability and slipshod servicing.

China makers are starting to become impatient, not just in the US market. Chan An is expected to assemble its small car/minivan to compete with the perennial leader, Avanza. Prices are one thing, but ML consumers are becoming more discerning these days. So quality counts at the end of the day.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Excerpts of REAL customer complaints at XXXXX Malaysia .....

Hi auto folks !!! A happy new year to all of U - let's join forces in turning 2006 into a bumper year for the industry players in general - not just in Malaysia. Recently, well today actually I had this privilege of sifting through actual customer grievances in the form of emails and letters addressed to an established auto maker in Malaysia. I have decided to keep mum on the name of the manufacturer at this juncture. Bear in mind that some of the points raised in the letters are a bit biased in that they are closely related to traditional Malaysian attitude and service culture - You gotta Be Here Done That to really grasp the euphemism. Enjoy .........

1. Complaint about the steering wheel
" Could you please give me a very good service center that I can go to without them telling me - biasalah, cik, steering semua kereta mesti senget punya ( its common for all cars to have slightly misaligned steering)" - What a load of crap, if it does then the automaker would see a horde of irate owners storming the service centers or corporate office for an imperfect fitment!!!

2. Complaint on ride and handling on a van
" .........when you drive over a road surface which are not totally flat and even such as wavy pattern-like roads, the last row and center row passengers can feel like they are in a rough sea, very uncomfortable. " - This guy must be a sea farer used to ship/boat rides or a first hand driving experience in a van with old fashioned leaf springs

3. Complaint on bad service experience
" ... I had a bad experience with a lady who not only didn't smile but also give details very fast as though she was forced to work here. She was not courteous at all. It makes sending your car for service matters there like going to one of those government offices." Hmmmm, surprisingly this email complaint actually came from someone working in one of the government organizations in Malaysia. Even she admitted that there are service deficiencies in the government. Remember the old adage - as the wheel turns ---------ahh forget something like it would hit you back !!!!

Those are some that of the comments that I find pretty amusing. Some complaints are legitimate while some are baseless- carried by folks out there intending to make quick bucks. Those legitimate whiners are sometimes unlucky - being tossed around like rubber balls by the cust. service team. That is pitiful - considering that these customers are doing the management justice by telling them areas that need improvement ................

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Proton's Italian fiasco......

At first, the stake in MV Augusta was like a dream come true for Proton - having acquired world class engineering capabilities in two wheeler production and blending them into Proton's 4 wheel product line up. Vehicles renowned for their engineering prowess would always be the mainstay of Proton - and the move was a baby step forward. Proton endeavours to stay clear of the mass market car concept championed by low cost producers - China.

The strategy turned out to be otherwise. What is meant to be the nation's joy and shareholder pleaser was indeed a loser. Proton has decided to bite the bullet and dispose of its stake in MV Augusta as it was responsible for the bulk of the red ink in Proton. What went wrong here? The inept Augusta's management team to turn around things under the helm of Proton or the hand wringing and prognosticating attitude of Proton team to run full steam? Has Proton managed to learn a thing or two about bike technology during a the short stint to be applied towards car making or are they too engrossed in dressing up outdated car models to rejuvenate customers interest?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

An attitude shift needed when assembling S class

Daimler Chrysler Malaysia has decided to invest in the assembling of its latest luxury liner - the S class type in Pekan Pahang Malaysia upon launcing its multi million Auto haus showroom here in Petaling Jaya. A joy indeed to the fledgling assembly industry which has been harboured by news of losing out to Thailand for lucrative assembly contracts.

As the S class is considered the premium line for Mercedes Benz, Malaysians involved need to undergo a 360 degree mindset change. Ditto for the lackadaisical attitude prevalent in the manufacturing of trucks or cars that put quality in the backseat (if what those workers perceive). This is make or break time for DRB Hicom assembly business. Achievement garnered which is devoid of glitches and quality slipshods would go a long way in transforming Malaysia into the hub of assembly activities. This is what Daimler Chrysler is pinning its hopes in Malaysia - to seek an alternative from the highest auto industry labor cost structure in the world that is in Germany.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Discord which tend to impair quality and affect car choice.....

The bickering between unionized workers of Delphi and Delphi's top management is ongoing albeit at a less harsher note. What is feared most is that those lengthy and heated discussion would eventually lead to strike - something that Delphi and its customers could ill afford at this juncture. A strike would cause serious repercussions not only to Delphi workers but also to its customers mainly GM (constitute about 50 % fo Delphi's sales revenues) and Toyota.

Sometimes I just paused to ponder at my workstation here in Malaysia ........... how could workers engrossed with the thought of job insecurity could graciously move along the production line and churn out defect free automotive parts. When loyalty to a company diminishes doesn't it shows on the quality of the product? I am pretty sure the customers (vehicle makers) have to exercise extra vigilance during this trying times to ensure that Delphi parts fitted into every model make the grade. As for the vehicle purchasers, shunning models that have a significant percentage of Delphi DNA in them is a wise move - at least until the house is back to orderly manner.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Quality can sometimes mean brutal.......

Put the customers in the automotive production line.... they are going to freak out. The presence of Quality Gate centers in every division of auto production , be it paint, trim and body line, assembly can send shivers to the spine to first time lookers. Those harsh banging and knocking tend to mimic a scene in professional wrestling.

In the auto production world, those actions are there for a reason. QUALITY. To ensure a perfect fit and to uphold the quality disciples, QC workers continuously wrestle with the fitted parts. No wimpy parts that hang loosely or perish under heavy or repeated usage. And there is no reason to drive a hard bargain with the customers once quality receives a back seat.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A career progression?????

I am back again this time. Sorry for not updating the blog. I am too preoccupied with my new job and my new role as a Research Manager at a Japanese automotive company in Malaysia. I will be bringing along my analytical skills developed for five years at Frost & Sullivan, a US based consulting firm. Such high expectations they put one me in that they want the whole research division revamped under my tutelage. Not much difference, it is just that everything is so structured and so regimented mainly in a Japanese organization. I miss those flexibility associated with an American company.

Nevertheless, the ball is under my game. I am expected to be out of the box thinker - thinking new ways to make things better. At least I am paid to do what I love - thinking strategically and implementing changes that benefit all. As long as I am allowed to voice my insights in this blog, I have no reasons to complain. Look forward to sending more manufacturer related stories on the web !!!