Not surprisingly, new vehicle sales in the first month of 2018 were lower than the month before. With aggressive end-of-year promotions as part of the effort to clear 2017 stocks before the new year began, many companies recorded a boost in sales and the December Total Industry Volume (TIV) of new vehicles registered was 11% higher than November’s.

However, that meant that many people who wanted to buy new vehicles had done so – apart from those who preferred to wait for the new year to register their vehicles – and the number of potential buyers dropped in January. With 44,575 new vehicles delivered in January, the change in TIV was 19% or 10,154 units less than the December TIV. Compared to January 2017, the volume was almost similar with a difference of only 92 units less.

Source: Monthly reports from the Malaysian Automotive Association

Sales of new passenger vehicles totalled 39,982 units, representing almost 90% the TIV. This was almost the same as the volume for January 2017 but commercial vehicles saw an increase of 27% over the same month in 2017.

Perhaps in preparation for a new model year and with less stocks carried over, the plants started off on a high note with a total output of 68,002 vehicles, almost 50% higher than the volume produced in January 2017. Of the number, 64,333 units were passenger vehicles and 3,669 units were commercial vehicles (including pick-ups).

For 2018, the 590,000-unit for 2017 is set as the forecast again, which would be an increase of 2.3% in the TIV from the actual volume achieved in 2017 which was 576,635 units. This means that an average of 49,166 vehicles will have to be sold every month, on average, so January has started off with a deficit of 4,591 units.

Given the Chinese New Year festivities and holidays in February, the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) does not expect the TIV to be higher and forecasts that it is likely to be lower than what was reported for January.

In the coming months, the impending General Elections may cause consumers to put off spending on expensive items until they see what the situation is after the elections. Fortunately, there are no promises of making cars cheaper (so far) to influence buyers to defer their purchases although there are the usual campaign promises of reductions in toll rates and fuel prices.

[Chips Yap]

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