Perodua has led the Malaysian auto market for over a decade, but the Rawang-based carmaker is showing no signs of complacency. On the product front, Perodua has just launched its best and most homegrown model yet in the 2018 Myvi, and with a full year of Myvi sales to look forward to, the company is looking at a 2-3% growth in sales this year.

The 2018 outlook was shared by Perodua president and CEO Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh on this morning’s BFM 89.9 Breakfast Grille. At the same time, the P2 chief says that 3-4% growth in total industry volume (TIV) for this year is possible.

Official 2017 figures for both Malaysia’s TIV and Perodua’s full year sales are not out yet, but P2’s 2017 sales target was 202k units, while TIV is expected to hit 590k units. Full year results should be released by the carmaker later this month.

In 2016, Perodua sold 207,100 cars and recorded its highest ever market share of 35.7%. Moving forward, the company is not expecting much upside when it comes to market share. “If you look at the domestic market, we are about to reach maturity. 35%, it’s going to be tough going beyond that,” Aminar said, adding that the one million units TIV by 2020 bandied about some time ago by the Malaysian Automotive Institute (MAI) is “challenging”.

However, the profile of Perodua’s customers has been seeing some shift, brought about by the new Myvi. “For the new Myvi, there seems to be less first time buyers (FTB). We’re beginning to see more of the additional car buyers (ACB) and replacement car buyers (RCB). Because of this, the demographics of the customers seem to be a little bit different. We’re hoping that with this, we’ll be able to mitigate some of those issues with regards to hire purchase,” he added.

Hire purchase issues have long been a challenge to Perodua. Prior to the launch of the Myvi, Aminar told 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. Typically, ACBs and RCBs have better financial standing that FTBs.

Exports is a question the media regularly throws at Perodua, and Aminar has always been consistent. “Export is not an easy business. It’s still something that we are learning. We want to bring ourselves more to global standards and hopefully that will be a launching pad for us to look slightly more into the export market,” he said, admitting that P2 has been focused on the domestic market.

“We have been engaging with the government, sharing with them some of the challenges that we’re going through. I believe the government understands the situation that we are in. So apart from CBU car exports, we’re also now talking about exporting parts and components, which are less challenging compared to CBU. That’s an area we are currently looking at seriously,” he added.