As expected, new vehicle sales for the month of February were low due to the short working month. This is typically the case each year, more so if Chinese New Year occurs during the month. So there’s a big push in January to try to take advantage of the festive spirit when some people may want new cars but that also means that the decline in February can be greater.

Nevertheless, the difference from January’s Total Industry Volume (TIV) was 9% or 3,997 units, a bigger drop than for the same month in 2017 when the difference was 4% or 1,877 units. The TIV for February was 40,578 units, made up of 36,623 passenger vehicles (excluding pick-up trucks) and 3,955 commercial vehicles.

Production output was also scaled back during February in anticipation of reduced sales and the 38,416 vehicles that rolled out during the month were 11% less than for the same month in 2017. Interestingly, however, the drop was entirely due to reduced production of passenger vehicles. For commercial vehicles, the output was actually higher in 2018 by 17%, but commercial vehicles accounted for only 8.3% of the total volume.

For March, the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) expects higher numbers not only because it’s a full working month but also because it’s the final month in the financial year for certain car companies. So there will be a big push to reach the highest possible numbers before the books close.

For companies like Perodua, demand is high for certain models so they have outstanding orders to meet. That’s a good position to be in although it has to be managed well so that waiting periods do not become too long. And with the next big festival (Hari Raya) coming, there will be people who will want their car by that time so the advice from Perodua is to book now. If you want the Myvi faster, the 1.3-litre version could be obtained a bit quicker and it’s actually good value for money too.

It’s almost certain that the General Elections will be held during the second quarter of this year. So far, one party has said it will make cars 1300 cc and below cheaper by excise duty exemptions (for first-time buyers). Such promises can influence some people to defer their purchase so there may be an effect on sales in coming months. However, most people in the car companies feel that there won’t be any noticeable effect on sales.

Click here for summaries of new vehicle sales for other months.

[Chips Yap]

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