15 years ago, a car for the Malaysian masses was created. A small compact car that was aimed at 1st time buyers,or the lower income group as well as for career upstarts who needed a small nippy car that was both fuel efficient and compact to be zipped around town. The car that built a company and moved a nation. What am I speaking about? Well, its the PERODUA KANCIL. The car that made Perodua, PERODUA.
As I witnessed the final rollout of the 722 223rd Kancil to be rolled out of the company’s vast assembly plant in Rawang, the sense of nostalgia was evident upon the hierachy of the upper management,the workers,the suppliers and from us the media representatives. That the Kancil was a rousing succes was not the primary issue, the fact was, this is the car, 2nd only to our very own Proton Saga which is a Malaysian Dream by it self in the 80′s, to have moved so many Malaysians of every age group,gender,race and income.
Youths would fondly remember this car as the main reason they have their licensces. Urbanites were awed with the small zappy characteristics of this car as they zipped in and out the traffic jams that plague our cities. Housewives would know the extent of being able to park in the tightest of spots as they make a run to the market or a beeline to the sale at the notoriusly packed and shopping unfriendly shopping districts of Malaysia. Village folk appreciated the Kancil for its no nonsense styling and for the simple fact that it gave them a proper reason to upgrade from their kapchai’s to a proper 4 wheeled runabout and I could just go on rambling about this because 1 thing for sure, this 4 wheeled compact was the only car at that point of time to have basically played a part in many a Malaysian’s life.
From the time you use to sit with your big sedans on the road and watch in horror as the Kancil nipped past you in heavy traffic and found a way out of the jam, the times you thought there was an empty slot in the car park only to your frustration to find a neatly parked sly looking Kancil sitting there harmlessly, neatly hidden by plain view from the towering twin cab on the right and the equally menacing Japanese family car on the left.
For many of us, the end of the production of this model from Perodua brought a deep sense of nostalgia. At the assembly plant, there was an eerie silence as the Managing Director announced the end of its production. There were some workers who seemed like the had lost a family member.
Sadness and nostalgia aside, the Kancil was indeed due for replacement. In a world littered by techological acronyms like VVTI,VTEC,DURATEC,SOHC, Fuel- Injection and many more, the Kancil for certainly lost in the sea of its more fuel efficient and good looking rivals. Despite having launched the Viva to replace the good ol Mousedeer sometime back, the sales volume remained highly impressive for the Kancil.
Fast forward to the present thou and the bankers induced global financial crisis seems to have whetted the Malaysian appetite for small cars. The name of the game now was Fuel Economy and despite being a small car with a small engine, the fuel savings offered by a new generation Vios and City were suddenly a more attractive option. Not like the Malaysian car buyers needed another reason to plonk their savings on a Japanese car thou. The Little Kancil with its modest old tech engine with its carburetor engine had indeed reached the end of a cycle.
The Perodua Kancil, or Nippa in the UK and the Daihatsu Ceria in Indonesia rolled out for its final appearance in front of a packed assembly plant and despite being surrounded by the vast amount of machinery and people present, it held its own for its final public appearance.
Perodua Kancil. The Car That Built a Company and Moved a Nation