The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) has released vehicle sales data for the month of April 2020. With the movement control order (MCO) in force, all new vehicular activity was at a complete stop last month. Well, almost, because as it turns out, there were still a handful of registrations despite the Covid-19 outbreak.

When we mean a handful, we mean a handful. The month saw only 141 units being recorded, a drop of 22,337 units or a 99.37% decrease from the 22,478 units in March, which was already 44% lower than the February total. As a result of that, the year-to-date total industry volume (TIV) stood at 106,601 units, significantly behind to the 192,971 units recorded for the corresponding period last year.

Of the total, 131 were passenger vehicle registrations, while 10 were commercial registrations. As to why there were even registrations in April, given that the road transport department (JPJ) was closed for the duration, we were told by industry sources that it remained possible to register a car online during the lock-down, but the cars would not have road tax and full documentation, or be able to be collected.

The sources said that in these instances, the registrations were for vehicle purchases in which car loans had already been approved pre-MCO and a Letter of Undertaking (LoU) had already been issued, and the completion of the registration was so there would be no lapse in the agreement, which would entail needing to go through the whole process again.

The association expects the sales volume in May to be much higher than in April, but much lower than the traditional number of monthly registrations prior to the MCO. It said that automotive showroom traffic is anticipated to remain slow, and with banks being more stringent in approving hire purchase loans as well as reducing the hire purchase loan quantum, it’s not going to be smooth sailing.