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Malaysia's auto industry on track to meet sales target this year [28-12-2012]  
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CAR sales are expected to meet the industry's target of 615,000 units for this year, thanks mainly to strong sales by non-national car makers.

For the first 11 months, car sales grew by 2.6 per cent at 567,170 units. The auto industry needs another 47,830 units of sales this month in order to meet its target.

With historical data showed that December sales are usually just slightly lower than November's, it is fair to assume that December 2012's sales will not be too far off the 53,365 units registered in November. (Sales for December 2011 was 47,954 units, about 0.8 per cent lower than November's sales of 48,310 units)

"I believe the target of 615,000 units is very much achievable, this is mainly backed by good performance by the non-national brands," said Malaysian Automotive Association president Datuk Aishah Ahmad when contacted yesterday.

Some industry observers were initially concerned that the target of 615,000 units would not be achieved, as the industry was affected by various trends and changes.

First, there was the tighter lending guidelines, which hurt the sales of national entry-level vehicles, such as Proton Saga and Perodua Viva.

Consumers were also postponing their vehicle purchases as they were speculating the possibility of a cut in excise duties in the Budget 2013.

"The total industry volume in 2012 has so far turned out to be better than expected, despite being hit by tighter lending guidelines.

"Despite these concerns weighing on total industry volume growth, the aggressive launches by the non-national marques, especially by Toyota and Volkswagen, and strong consumer sentiment as well as aggressive promotions, are likely to propel total industry volume to end the full year with 2.5 per cent growth.

"This is in line with our revised forecast (our earlier forecast was for one per cent growth) and that of the MAA," said OSK Research analyst Ahmad Maghfur Usman in his report.

While the aggressive launches by foreign car makers as well as the tighter lending guidelines have affected sales of national cars, the picture is not entirely gloomy for the local players.

Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bdn (Perodua), the country's top car maker, expects sales to hit about 180,000 this year, about the same as last year's number.

Proton Holdings Bhd, now controlled by DRB-HICOM Bhd, can expect better days ahead once its new strategic roadmap is carried out.

For 2013, auto makers can still expect better sales, as the country is still poised for another year of economic growth and domestic demand remain resilient.

"I think there will still be growth for next year," said Aishah.

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