New vehicle sales in May were highest in 2019

As Malaysians prepared for the Hari Raya festive season in May, all sorts of sales promotions were on, including great offers from car companies. Those who had been holding back on the decision may have found it hard not to grab the money-saving deals or special incentives and put their money down for a new vehicle during the month.

Source: Monthly reports of the Malaysian Automotive Association

The pre-festive season surge in sales saw a significant increase of 22% or 10,816 units over May new vehicle registrations, rising to 60,780 units. This is the highest monthly Total Industry Volume (TIV) reported for this year and when compared to the same month in 2018, it was 41% higher. However, the second quarter of 2018 was an unusual time as there was a General Election on and uncertainty made many consumers hold back on purchases until they knew the outcome.

With the boost in the TIV in May, the cumulative volume after 5 months reached 253,808 units, 13% higher than the same period in 2018. The growth has been in the passenger vehicle segment (excluding pick-up trucks) while the commercial vehicle segment has actually not grown at all.

While there is no direct relationship between the production numbers and sales numbers in a given month, the output from the factories in May was 18% higher than for the same period in 2018 – 51,482 units versus 43,589 units.

A Volkswagen model on the assembly line at the plant in Pekan, Pahang

Lukewarm outlook
The lure of new models notwithstanding, the outlook for 2019 remains lukewarm. The industry is waiting for the revised National Automotive Policy to be announced before making more concrete plans for new products and investments.

Then there’s also the impending implementation of targeted subsidies for fuel to come sometime in the second half of the year. If prices RON95 petrol and diesel start to become higher, there may be a shift to smaller cars if motorists start to feel their running costs rising. But then again, Malaysians often have a short memory and a tolerance for ‘pain’, and will just come to accept the higher prices after a while!