It was a surprise to be informed by the secretariat of the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) that there would not be a summary of vehicle sales and production for the month of July. This is probably the first time that the association has not issued its monthly summary and it has nothing to do with the long Hari Raya break. The reason is that Proton was unwilling to provide their data for the month and as their volumes are among the two largest, a summary would not be meaningful.
Proton’s refusal to supply the data is due to its belief that doing so would be an offence under the Competition Act which came into being at the start of this year. The Act, which is intended to prevent price-fixing (among other things), suggests that sharing of data by car companies is an act of collusion.
Proton is not the first company to stop supplying data as Mercedes-Benz Malaysia and a number of other companies have also done the same over the past 6 months.
Nevertheless, while Proton is not supplying any data at all, the other companies still provide ‘top-level’ data, ie overall sales volumes but not data on sales of individual models, which at least enables tracking of market conditions. It is important that market trends be monitored so that production can be planned and adjusted accordingly; over-supply can lead to serious problems not just for the car companies but also the entire supply chain.
When asked to comment about this issue earlier, MAA President Datuk Aishah Ahmad said that the matter is being handled by lawyers to obtain exemption from the Malaysian Competition Commission (MyCC). She remarked that statements made by the MyCC regarding the sharing of data as being against the Competition Act were incorrect.
“It was stated by an MyCC official that as a result of such sharing of data, parts prices will go up. I find it hard to understand how parts dealers would use the data and decide that their prices should be raised!” she said. “The MAA is an association, not a cartel,” she stressed, “and we have been compiling sales data from our members and making the data available to all members and subscribers.”
“The data is historical in nature, not forecasts, and it allows every company to have a better idea of market trends. Such information will encourage competition, which is what the Competition Act aims to achieve,” she explained.
Datuk Dr. Ang Bon Beng, a MAA Vice-President and also Executive Director of Edaran Tan Chong Motor added: “By submitting our data to the MAA, we are being transparent and I believe that is how business should be done. If data is not made known, then we would not be transparent and isn’t that wrong?”
“We do not ‘fix’ prices as we are all competitors. If we know that our competitors are doing better than us in a certain segment, then we would find ways to challenge them and that generates competition. So why should the sharing of such data be stopped?” he asked in puzzlement.
Datuk Aishah also said that the MAA had checked with associations in other countries such as the USA, India, Japan and Australia, and found that the data they receive from their members is detailed, just as it has always been in Malaysia until this year. “Bear in mind that these countries implemented a similar Competition Act earlier than Malaysia and they do not have such issues as sharing of historical sales data being an offence,” she said.
Motor Trader has suspended publishing our usual Market Reports as we are also uncertain about the legal position since we obtain the data from the MAA as well. Nevertheless, from the latest data available, we can tell you that the Total Industry Volume (TIV) – minus Proton’s volume – for July was 46,637 units. In June, the TIV was 56,604 units and that included Proton’s numbers.
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