The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) has released sales and production figures for the whole of 2019, and despite a challenging and volatile year, total industry volume (TIV) stood at 604,287 units. This represents an increase of 5,689 units, or about 1%, compared to the 598,598 units recorded in 2018.

The result also marks the first time after three consecutive years (2016-2018) that TIV surpassed the 600,000-unit mark since 2015 (666,677 units). According to the association, the increase in TIV was due to an increase in the sales of passenger vehicles, which climbed 17,080 units, or 3.2%, to 550,179 units in 2019 from 533,099 units in 2018.

On the other hand, the commercial vehicle segment dipped 11,391 units, or 17.4%, in 2019 to 54,108 units from 2018’s 65,499 units. Overall, passenger vehicles accounted for 91% of 2019 TIV, which is an improvement from the 89.1% recorded in 2018.

On a year-on-year (YoY) basis, monthly vehicle sales were consistently higher in 2019 compared to 2018, with exceptions being the month of June to August. The difference in the two periods, which is rather exceptional, is due to the reduction in car prices during the goods and services tax (GST) holiday in 2018.

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Applying the same YoY observation on a quarterly basis, sales during the first quarter of 2019 was higher than the same period in 2018, but was relatively equal in the second quarters of both years due to subdued business optimism and restraint consumer spending in light of economic uncertainties.

The third quarter of 2019 was considerably lower than the same corresponding period in 2018, which again, is attributed to the GST tax holiday that consumers enjoyed in 2018. The final quarter of 2019 saw a significant rebound in TIV with 161,296 units recorded, which is 17,553 units, or 12.2%, more than what was seen in 2018.

Aggressive promotions coupled with attractive deals given by car companies are said to be the primary factors that led to Q4 2019 being the highest quarterly TIV achieved in the year. The association also pointed out that the relatively encouraging performance in 2019 was backed by a stable economy and employment market, as well as the introduction of several new models.

Diving into the finer details, passenger cars made up 69.4% of the passenger vehicle segment in 2019 instead of 73.3% in 2018. Unsurprisingly, 4WD/SUVs commanded a larger share with 22.6%, which is a step up from the 14.2% recorded in 2018. Meanwhile, the share of MPVs decreased from 11.9% in 2019 to just 7.4%, while window vans saw a slight decline to 0.5% in 2019 from 0.6% in 2018.

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Looking at other figures related to this segment, passenger cars saw 382,018 units shifted, which is 8,619 units, or 2.2%, less than in 2018 (390,637 units). Other declines involved MPVs and window vans, with the former seeing a 36.2% drop from 63,608 units in 2018 to 40,601 units in 2019. As per current trends, 4WD/SUVs saw a massive jump in registrations, with 124,560 units delivered, representing an increase of 48,962 units, or 64.8%.

Moving on to production, a total of 571,632 units were made in 2019, which is 6,661 units, or 1.2%, less than the 564,971 units produced in 2018. The decline mainly came from the commercial vehicle segment, which saw 15.6% less units produced in 2019, while passenger vehicles climbed 2.6%.

Focusing more on the passenger vehicle segment, production of passenger cars and 4WD/SUVs increased, with the latter seeing a 14.9% gain to 110,480 units in 2019 from 96,139 units in 2018. On the other hand, it was a marginal gain for passenger cars, with 390,980 units produced in 2019, a 2.8% increase from 380,472 units in 2018. As for window vans and MPVs, both saw a decline in production by 7.8% and 26.7%, respectively.