Just like how the official July 2021 auto sales headline of “Malaysian vehicle sales go up by 269%” is a collector’s item (although the total was just 7k units), this sales breakdown by brand is also a unicorn. How about Proton on top, Mitsubishi in third and perennial leader Perodua down in fourth? Caught your attention, so here we go.

Last month, Proton sold 1,904 cars to top the sales table. Coming in second is Toyota with 1,442 units and completing the podium is Mitsubishi with 686 units. Perodua, the permanent resident at the top, was down in fourth with just 655 units. Honda is a further 70 units below in fifth.

While Perodua -35.1% (the only drop in the top 10), Proton +290.2%, Toyota +1,616.7%, Mitsubishi +376.4%, Honda +2,559.1%, Isuzu +4,283.3% and Porsche +3,000% look spectacular, they are jumps from a very low base that is June 2021. The erratic trend has Covid thumbprints all over, and you can’t really read too much into it.

Basically, the Malaysian auto industry has been severely impacted by the forced closures of factories and showrooms, and the basic rule is whoever has stock, can make some sales.

If Perodua production is a machine, it would be a very highly tuned one with big output and ready orders – cars that are out of the factory spend very little time as orphans. You need to have consistent sales and precise planning to pull off this high efficiency trick.

However, this also means that the market leader rarely has extra stock, and surplus is what’s keeping the rest of the brands going in this dry period (as you can see below, many registered a grand total of zero last month). The good news is that factories and showrooms have been allowed to reopen, and as for Perodua, its Sg Choh factories are up and running again, so it’s kemarau no more.

There are some interesting year-to-date trends that mean something in the bigger picture though – Toyota’s lead over Honda has widened to around 10k units, which means that the big T’s mission of finally regaining the No.1 non-national spot from Honda is looking good. The surprise package that is Mitsubishi is in a solid fifth, pulling away from Nissan and Mazda in the “best of the rest” race after Perodua, Proton, Toyota and Honda. Mitsu has been setting personal bests, and is on track for its strongest year.

Speaking of trends, check out more of those in our 1H 2021 half time report here.