Sales of hybrid vehicles are expected to be flat or lower than the 15,355 units sold last year, mainly due to lack of new models being introduced into the market, according to analysts and industry observers.
“Hybrid cars also go through the same market cycle as ordinary vehicles, where new models tend to stimulate demand,” said RHB Research analyst Alexander Chia.
Hybrid vehicle sales in year-to-date June rose 9.8% to 6,817 units versus 6,211 a year earlier, according to data from the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).
The increase was boosted by models introduced into the market by Audi and BMW in February.
Honda was the sole hybrid vehicle seller to register an increase in sales in the first six months of the year.
“Honda introduced its facelifted three-door CR-Z hybrid in the first quarter of the year and this generated buying interest,” said an industry observer.
He added that the good demand for hybrid vehicles in Malaysia was due to the excise duty exemption on hybrid cars below 2,000cc, a policy that ends this year.
Chia noted that hybrid vehicles tended to be bought for their price (given the duty exemptions), rather than for cost savings from improved fuel consumption, given the subsidised price of fuel in Malaysia.
“If the hybrid duty exemptions are removed next year and prices of hybrid cars rise significantly, then we expect sales of such vehicles will decline sharply,” he said.
Sales of hybrid vehicles in Malaysia are still small, accounting for just 2.4% of the country’s total industry volume (TIV) of 627,753 last year.
Last week, the MAA maintained its TIV forecast at 640,000 units for 2013, mainly due to the possibility of further tightening of the hire-purchase loans approval process by Bank Negara. The 640,000 units, if achieved, would be Malaysia’s highest TIV ever.
For the first half of 2013, TIV was up 4.1% to 313,488 units from 301,269 a year earlier.
Vehicle sales slipped for the second consecutive month in June by 5.3% to 53,631 units from 56,650 a year earlier.