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Auto players adopt a wait-and-see approach about impact of new lending guidelines [26-03-2012]  
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Automotive industry players and observers are still maintaining a “wait-and-see” approach about the impact of Bank Negara's responsible lending guidelines on total industry volume (TIV) for this year.

“At this juncture, we feel it is still early to do a review on the TIV forecast for 2012. We will relook at it when we hold our half-year review sometime during the third week of July,” said Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president Datuk Aishah Ahmad.

The MAA had forecast TIV to grow 2.5% to 615,000 units this year from 600,123 units in 2011.

Total vehicle sales fell 25% to 40,948 units in January 2012 from 54,781 units in the same month last year. This was attributable to tighter hire-purchase loan approvals, shorter working month as a result of the Chinese New Year holidays and the impact from Thailand's flood disaster, which had yet to recover fully.

Sales of vehicles, however, rebounded in February to rise 9% to 44,013 units from 40,387 a year earlier, boosted by a return of consumers' buying interest, longer working month and improved performance by the commercial vehicles segment.

Frost & Sullivan partner and head for automotive and transportation practice, Asia-Pacific, Kavan Mukhtyar also said he was maintaining his TIV forecast at 612,000 units.

“We are holding our forecasts for now. In fact, we had already factored in the tightening of lending rules as one of the market restraints for 2012,” he said.

At a presentation earlier this year, Frost & Sullivan had forecast the approval rate for passenger vehicle loans to decline to 50.3% in 2011 from 59% in 2009.

Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) managing director Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh said it was still too early to determine if the central bank's responsible lending guidelines would have an impact on TIV.

“It is too premature to assume that overall TIV will be adversely impacted due to this new ruling, especially when the central bank and other stakeholders are willing to continue to have open dialogue.

“We will closely monitor the situation, especially in March and April, and we will present our case again with the relevant data and information to the central bank as well as financial institutions if the need arises.”

Aminar added that a contraction or reduction to the total sales and production would have a far reaching affect to all stakeholders, including the Government, which might have a lesser revenue collection from related taxes and duties.

Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) chief executive officer Tetsuya Oda said the company's plans and strategies were still on track despite the new lending rules by the central bank.

“For MMM, we remain positive on achieving our sales target for this year and MAA's forecast of 2.5% growth in vehicle sales and we expect the industry to remain robust,” he said, adding that the company's network expansion plan would be carried out extensively in 2012.

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