At a recent Dewan Negara sitting, it was announced that car prices are down by an average of 16.38% from 2013 to February 2018. According to Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, international trade and industry deputy minister, car prices had also dropped by 0.52% in 2017.

“In 2016, car prices rose by 2.13% due to the depreciation of the ringgit. During the same year, the overall drop in car prices stood at only 12.55%,” Ahmad said when replying to a question from Datuk Yong Wui Chung, as reported by Bernama. Ahmad was asked if the targeted 30% reduction in car prices as promised by the government five years ago could be achieved – referencing BN’s “Menepati Janji Membawa Harapan” manifesto.

While the stated figure (16.38%) isn’t close to the government’s target, the minister cited a number of factors for this, including unfavourable foreign exchange rates and market uncertainty. The latter involves the prices of completely knocked-down (CKD) parts, transportation costs, insurance and loan interest rates.

“The government will continue to discuss with the car manufacturers to ensure affordable price of cars. Some companies are able to reduce car prices through their respective marketing strategies including the introduction of new models and conversion of operations from importation to local installation,” he said, explaining that car prices were not set by the government but was determined by the manufacturers and assemblers.

During the sitting, Ahmad also revealed the prices of several car models have indeed reduced in stages from 2013 to 2017, including the Proton Exora 1.6 (-4.7%), Perodua Alza 1.5 (-11.3%), Perodua Myvi 1.3 (-19.4%), Mazda CX-5 (-6.6%) and Honda Jazz (-19.3%).

However, a quick check on our part revealed quite a bit of discrepancy. For instance, a 2013 Proton Exora 1.6 CFE Standard CVT was priced at RM67,108 OTR without insurance, while the 2018 equivalent, the Exora 1.6 Turbo Exec CVT is selling for RM65,702. No doubt there is a decrease in price (-RM1,405), but the percentage change is only down 2.09% and not 4.7% as claimed.

Moving on to our other national carmaker, the Perodua Alza 1.5S MT in 2013 went for RM51,738 and is priced at RM50,648 in 2018. This represents a 2.11% price drop, which is nowhere near the claimed 11.3%. Should that be the case, an Alza 1.5S MT would theoretically be priced at RM45,892 today.

As for the Perodua Myvi 1.3, a 19.4% drop in price was quoted, which is quite a substantial amount. Based on 2013 prices, a Myvi 1.3 MT went for RM40,650, while the 2018 equivalent, the Myvi 1.3 Standard G MT, is RM44,300. In this case, prices went up by RM3,650, or 8.98% – the opposite of what was claimed. Even so, we did discover reductions further up the list of variants, but again, not up to 19.4%.

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A similar example relates to the Mazda CX-5, which is claimed to be 6.6% cheaper, but an apples to apples comparison between the 2013 CX-5 2.0 2WD Mid-spec and 2018 CX-5 2.0 2WD GL shows a RM2,046, or 1.54%, increase instead.

As for the final model cited, the Honda Jazz, the reduction in price is merely RM156, or 0.21%, instead of the 19.3% put forth. We compared the 2013 Jazz 1.5 (RM72,666) and 2018 Jazz 1.5 S (RM72,510) to come to this deduction.

Previously, Berita Harian published a report claiming that car prices have gone down by up to 20.77%, but as we revealed at the time, the new versus old prices in the report were cherry picked for convenience, without taking into account variants and specifications. Based on the old prices we’ve dug up, it appears that car prices have not come down by much in general.

Despite the movement of prices, and there’s no denying a decreasing trend over the years even if it isn’t as much as claimed, car buyers today do benefit from higher levels of equipment than they did five years ago. There have also been legitimate efforts to reduce car prices, with the government handing out CKD EEV and CKD hybrid incentives to various brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Volvo and Honda, among others.