As reflected in the vehicle sales data sales by brand breakdown that is published every month, sales figures provide a good indicator of how things are shaping up for every player in the local industry. So, when companies stop reporting them to the association representing their interests, it does leave everyone guessing as to who leads a particular field and, at the end of the year, where they stand in the annual charts.

This has been the case with the premium segment, which last year saw an end to the monthly observation of the long-term rivalry between BMW and Mercedes-Benz. BMW Malaysia said it was switching to a quarterly reporting system of its BMW and MINI sales numbers, and though that delivery was patchy, the company did eventually report its full numbers for the year to the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) decided to stop reporting its figures completely. It wasn’t just to the MAA, because there was no mention of its annual volume in its 2020 recap earlier this year, leaving everyone wondering if the brand – which was the leader in the segment from 2015 to 2019 – was still ahead of its Bavarian rival for a sixth year running. In the end, it was not.

Last August, we asked MBM why it had decided to stop furnishing its sales numbers, and the company had responded by saying that there was a reason for that omission. It said it wanted to see a more accurate reporting of numbers than that presently in place, in which the numbers released by the MAA are declared or reported directly from manufacturers.

This, the company said, may not reflect actual numbers of vehicle registrations as carried out by the road transport department (JPJ), which it felt painted a more accurate picture.

“While proactive reporting of sales figures by brands to MAA is an easy option, we believe a more accurate way of assessing total industry volume (TIV) is to have it based on total cars registered under the JPJ. We have shared this point of view with MAA and are happy to collaborate to ensure we consider the actual JPJ registration figures for TIV,” MBM president and CEO Claus Weidner had said then.

At the media Q&A session following its 22nd annual general meeting last week, we asked the MAA if there were any updates to the matter. MAA president Datuk Aishah Ahmad said that some changes had come about in the reporting process to ensure accuracy in the furnished figures.

“Mercedes-Benz said (last year) that it would prefer MAA to use JPJ registration numbers to reflect sales figures more accurately, and wanted us to check with JPJ on the numbers to see whether what is provided by the members is as per what is being reported by JPJ. Now, what we have done is, when all MAA members report their sales figures to us, it has to be backed up with the registration number (from JPJ),” she said.

Aishah said that this has resulted in improved veracity of actual numbers, despite there being a slight need to wait. “While we have found that JPJ figures in the last two or three days in a month do not capture the numbers as per what our members have been reporting, it is eventually accurate (when they are added in to the final figures),” she explained.

With actual registration numbers now being used to determine TIV, there should surely be no reason for MBM to not return to the reporting fold. According to Aishah, the company has said it would. “We have checked with Mercedes-Benz, and they said they will report again, but did not say when,” she explained.