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More official sales figures from the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA), and this time it’s numbers from last month. As noted in our earlier 2015 Total Industry Volume report, it wasn’t the smoothest of years for the automotive industry as it mirrored the national economy, but a late surge powered total sales to 666,674 units, the highest ever in Malaysian history.

Sales volume in December 2015 was 69,401 units, 23.7% or 13,309 units higher than in November. It was by far the highest monthly total in 2015. MAA attributes the performance to aggressive promo campaigns and the customary “year end sales” in conjunction with the Christmas and New Year festive period.

Also contributing was the unusual pattern of consumers buying forward in anticipation of higher car prices in 2016. In October 2015, UMW Toyota Motor started the ball rolling by announcing that prices of Toyota and Lexus vehicles will go up from 4% to 16% effective January 2016. Honda Malaysia followed suit with a similar announcement.

So, who did well in December? At the expense of who? Most major brands gained in December with the exception of Mercedes-Benz (2015 premium segment sales champ), Subaru, Peugeot, MINI and Porsche.

Nothing can touch 10-year market leader Perodua at the top, but Proton wasn’t in its customary No.2 spot. The national brand sold more in December than November, but by a margin of less than 1,000 units, the smallest increase in the top 5.

Honda is the new non-national leader, but Toyota put up a very good fight. The latter’s strong showing in the final round of the bout (13,150 units in December vs Honda’s 10,747) meant that we had a photo finish for total 2015 sales, which stood at 94,902 for Honda and 93,760 for Toyota. The margin was just 1,142 units. Armed with three IMV heavy weapons – Hilux, Fortuner and Innova – this year’s battle for non-national bragging rights will be intense.

For a bigger picture, view the overall 2015 sales chart and MAA’s outlook for 2016.