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Vehicle sales down 25% [21-02-2012]  
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Total vehicle sales fell 25% to 40,948 units in January 2012 from 54,781 units in the same month last year, according to the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

In a statement yesterday, it said the lower vehicle sales last month was attributable to tighter hire purchase loan approvals, the shorter working month as a result of the Chinese New Year holidays and impact from Thailand's flood disaster, which had yet to recover fully.

The passenger vehicle segment registered sales of 36,864 units in January from 49,606 units a year earlier, while commercial vehicle sales fell to 4,084 units from 5,175 units. An analyst said sales registered last month was within expectations.

“In 2011, the CNY holidays fell in February. Usually, sales tend to pick up as it gets closer to the festive season.

“Also, because it (CNY) fell in January this year, it meant that it was a shorter working month and that often translated into lesser sales during the period.”

Another analyst said the tighter loan approval process made it tougher for potential customers to purchase vehicles.

“This is especially the case for customers within the lower income bracket, which would have a direct impact on mass-market models especially for Proton and Perodua makes,” she said.

Effective this year, banks have started using net income instead of gross income to calculate the debt service ratio for loans. This pre-emptive move by Bank Negara is said to contain the rise in consumer debts. The measure covers all consumer loan products, including car loans.

Meanwhile, total vehicle production for the month of January 2012 fell to 51,403 units from 60,283 units a year earlier. Passenger vehicle production fell to 46,274 units in January 2012 from 55,217 units a year earlier while production of commercial vehicles increased slightly to 5,129 units from 5,066 units in the same period last year.

On the outlook for February, the MAA said sales volume is expected to be maintained at last month's level. Analysts polled by StarBiz in a report earlier this month said they expected total vehicle sales in February to be lower than the 40,387 units achieved in the previous corresponding period, mainly due to the extended holiday period as a result of the earlier CNY period.

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