Perodua recorded sales of 151,600 units for the first nine months of the year, up 0.5% from the same period last year. The company is looking forward to a boost in the final quarter of the year, and is therefore on track to hit its 2017 sales target of 202,000 units. “Cautiously optimistic” is the official line.

Like most brands, Perodua’s sales moderated in Q3 2017, and the total of 51,900 units is 3% lower year-on-year. However, last year’s Q3 numbers were boosted by the launch of the Perodua Bezza in July 2016.

“Since the national 2018 budget is just around the corner, there seems to be a wait and see attitude this month resulting in comparatively slow sales,” Perodua president and CEO Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh said last week. “The fourth quarter is expected to be challenging but we believe that we can sustain our sales momentum and are cautiously optimistic in meeting our earlier set target of 202,000 units by the end of 2017,” he added.

At 48,700 units, the Axia is P2’s best performer so far, followed by the evergreen Myvi at 42,000 units. The Bezza did 39,800 units while the Alza found 21,400 homes from January to September. Perodua says that its four models top their respective segments, which are the A-segment hatchback, B-segment hatchback, A-segment sedan and MPV classes.

“We wish to thank all Malaysians for their trust in our brand and we will continue to improve ourselves; both in our products and services to serve you better,” Aminar said. In 2016, Perodua sold 207,100 vehicles and recorded its highest ever market share of 35.7%.

After sales has been an increasingly strong revenue stream for P2 of late, and service intake numbers went up 4.6% year-on-year to 1.58 million vehicles for the first nine months of the year. This is a big jump from the 1.2% y-o-y increase recorded in H1 2017.

For the market leader, the same challenges remain, chief of which is the approval rate for hire purchase loans. Aminar told the media on the sidelines of the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show that 85% to 90% of Perodua’s customers take loans, and while bookings are strong, the conversion rate (from bookings to sales) remains low at 48%.

While the carmaker fully understands the responsible lending policy by the central bank and Malaysian banks, it wishes for more flexibility from lenders. Perodua has already been instructing sales personnel to not just collect as many bookings as possible, but to do some filtering of customers, in terms of their financial profile and capability. Higher quality submissions should improve loan approval ratings from the banks.