Malaysian car sales figures for January 2016 are out, and as expected, it’s a subdued start to the new year for the industry.
A press release from the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) shows that combined sales for passenger and commercial vehicles for January 2016 is 44,591 units, which is 6,011 units less than the same month last year. Sales are also significantly lower than the 69,401 units recorded last month, December 2015.
The come down is expected after a strong year-end surge that pushed total industry volume (TIV) to an all-time high in 2015, fuelled by heavy discounting and promos by carmakers seeking to clear stock and meet targets. The incentives provided meant that a large amount of sales were concluded and accelerated as consumers took advantage of the promos.
The hangover from the year-end party is expected to carry into February, which is short working month due to the Chinese New Year break. MAA also cites the continuation of more stringent hire purchase loan approval from the banks, which are practising responsible lending with an eye on non-performing loans.
To recap, 2015 was a record breaking year for the automotive industry in Malaysia, with a TIV of 666,674 units, 0.03% higher than 2014’s 666,487 units. The all-time high was achieved in a gloomy economic climate, powered by a late surge as consumers bought forward in anticipation of higher car prices in 2016.
The ringgit’s dismal performance last year against major trading currencies have led to car companies increasing prices of new stock. The start of the year has brought about new and higher prices for Honda, Toyota, Lexus, Kia, Peugeot, Citroen, Audi and Mitsubishi vehicles. Even national carmaker Proton has increased prices by up to 4.6%.
So, will it be a slow year ahead, or will the automotive industry continue to defy predictions and general sentiment, powered by Malaysia’s love for cars and a slew of big launches from both local and foreign brands?