2 years of hard work. And it all came down to yesterday. The latest product from Proton, aptly named Saga, made its world premier yesterday at 5pm local time. The event was graced by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and was televised nationwide. More than 6000 bookings prior to launch is quite an achievement, especially considering many of them have never even seen the car. The Persona was a challenge to do due to the aggressive development schedule but from a design stand point the Saga was 10 times more challenging. So much hope and expectations are put into this product as it is seen as a strong catalyst to bring Proton back in gear in gaining market share. Life, it seems, is not without its poetry.
I originally penned this design sometime in December 2005 and from then on it was a whirlwind. The media kit states “The new Saga was developed within a record period of 17 months” but for us designers the journey began much earlier. The concept stage was very challenging. From there scale models were built, then full size clay models, followed by extremely accurate verification models. In between all that we also had to develop math models, 3D surfaces, virtual reality environments and countless components. Not forgetting the tedious work involving colour selection, fabrics and textures too.
On another note let me be the first to say that this car is designed by Malaysian designers and not LG Korea as speculated by many. LG does not have automotive stylists! I believe Malaysians should be proud that they have a select group of young and talented designers who can style cars for the masses. We have many engineers in this country but not car stylists. I am extremely proud to be part of this team.
I was at the launch venue till the Road Show flag off from Traders Hotel last night. It’s poignant to finally see the car undisguised on our roads and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief that the journey, although seemingly over, is flying to greater heights. I must admit I felt teary eyed as I watched the new Saga break cover… it was indeed a special feeling.
My designers and I on the stage after the show.
As I write this, the new Saga is making its rounds around the country and being scrutinized to the smallest detail. I have read many blogs, reports and articles about this car over the last 24 hours and it seems to be quite positive (there will always be skeptics and bashers but that’s another story…). The showrooms are packed to the brim with curious people, some genuine buyers while others just want to be part of the analyzing public. Whatever the case, if you have the time may I suggest you have a look at one and decide for yourself. Don’t just pass judgement by listening to people around you. Pass judgement by being objective and not influenced by past experiences.
I shall end this entry by saying the same thing I told the RTM newscaster yesterday, “This car represents the aspirations of many Malaysian i.e. that the opportunity to progress to greater heights is always there for all of us. But only if we pull together, focus passionately and execute to the best of our ability. We will succeed.”