Perodua released a statement yesterday announcing sales figures for the first quarter of the year. Unusually for the market leader, it wasn’t another record breaking quarter, but a drop in sales.

Sales fell 11% in March to 16,000 vehicles sold, compared with 18,000 vehicles sold in the same month last year. In a quarter-to-quarter comparison, Perodua’s sales eased 2.2% to 44,700 vehicles for the first three months of this year, from 45,700 units recorded in Q1 2011.

The company attributes this drop in sales to the new guidelines on responsible financing introduced by Bank Negara Malaysia in January, which tightened the criteria for hire purchase loans.

“Based on the data we have compiled, the Viva is the worst hit with a 19% drop in sales in the first quarter of this year to 13,000 units from 16,000 units registered in the first three months of 2011,” Perodua MD Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh said, adding that the current loan approval rate by banks were significantly lower than usual. He also said that BNM’s move is delaying loan approvals, while some loans were approved at a much reduced amount.

“Due to this delay it takes an average of 20 days to know the outcome of a loan application instead of three days previously, and this is having a huge impact to not just the manufacturers but also to the entire automotive eco-system,” Aminar added.

Combined, all these have resulted in high inventory levels at Perodua’s stockyards, which in turn has increased cost for the independent dealers, it was revealed. “We are currently compiling the data on the effects of the new guidelines to share with the relevant stakeholders and are still hopeful that a solution could be found and that the loan application process could be brought back to normal soon,” the Perodua boss said.

Another vocal opponent of BNM’s new guidelines is the Proton Edar Dealers Association Malaysia (PEDA). Read their list of grouses here. Media reports have quoted the Malaysian Automotive Association as saying that the total industry volume (TIV) for Q1 2012 shrank 12.6% to 138,544 vehicles year-on-year.