This just in. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also Finance Minister, is reading his Budget 2012 speech at the moment, and he has already touched on something that involves the auto sector, announcing that incentives given to hybrid cars have been extended till 31 December 2013!

Here’s some background: In Budget 2011, the government introduced FULL import duty and excise duty exemption for hybrid and electric cars and motorcycles.

Previously, it was 100% import duty exemption and 50% excise duty exemption, Budget 2011 made it 100% exemption for BOTH import duty and excise duty. The deal, for hybrid cars with 2.0 litre engines and below, was supposed to expire on Dec 31, 2011.

This has led to huge growth in sales for hybrid models such as the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius, while Lexus took advantage of this incentive to bring in the CT 200h hatchback at an attractive price. Honda Malaysia and UMW Toyota will be happy with today’s announcement and can plan ahead from now, bringing in more of the hybrids.

The PM has already touched on fuel subsidies, and from what we hear, it’s status quo.

UPDATE: Here’s Honda Malaysia MD & CEO Yoichiro Ueno’s response to the Budget’s hybrid announcement:

As a pioneer in introducing the hybrid car to the Malaysian market, we are pleased with the government’s decision to extend the full exemption of import and excise duty as announced in today’s Budget 2012. We would like to convey our gratitude as this would continue to make hybrid vehicles more accessible for environmentally conscious Malaysians which showed a significant growth compared to last year.

The Insight remains a popular model among the hybrid customers as to date we have sold 3,800 units. These exemptions are certainly timely, as hybrid vehicles gain favor among customers, Honda Malaysia is looking into expanding its hybrid vehicle line-up in Malaysia by year end.

And here is UMW Toyota Motor MD Ismet Suki’s response to the announcement of the extension of the hybrid exemption:

We are delighted with the announcement by the Prime Minister. This shows that the government is committed to make hybrid vehicles affordable for more Malaysians. It would be exciting to see more hybrid vehicles on our roads and more people would be aware about the effectiveness of hybrid technology as a proven alternative to lowering fuel consumption and environment friendly.

The government is moving towards the right direction in promoting a “greener living” by reducing the CO2 emission with more hybrid vehicles on our roads. UMW Toyota Motor strongly supports this government initiative and will continue to promote hybrid vehicles.

We at UMW Toyota Motor would like to congratulate the Prime Minister on the successful budget announcement that is favourable to private companies and will definitely ease the burden of more Malaysians.