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Auto sales to speed up [20-07-2012]  
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The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) is maintaining its total industry volume (TIV) forecast for this year at 615,000 units despite slower sales in three out of the first six months of 2012.

MAA president Datuk Aishah Ahmad said sales in the second half of the year was expected to be boosted by new model launches and promotional campaigns in conjunction with the upcoming festive holidays.

She also said that most car companies were adapting to the longer loan processing time which came about as a result of Bank Negara's responsible lending guidelines.

“Positive consumer sentiment is expected to continue, owing to greater stability in the employment market and the introduction of new and exciting models will generate interest among car enthusiasts and the public,” she said at MAA half-year briefing yesterday.

Aishah also said the overnight policy rate was expected to remain stable at current level of 3%, adding that borrowing cost was expected to remain accommodative.

“Malaysia's gross domestic product growth is expected to moderate to between 4% and 5% in 2012 from 5.1% in 2011. Despite the lower growth rate, the domestic consumption and investment activity are expected to remain resilient.”

She also said the sales of hybrid cars was expected to continue its upward trend this year, spurred by the growing popularity, increasing awareness, tax incentives and availability of more choices of the cars.

OSK Investment Research analyst Ahmad Maghfur Usman said the TIV performance so far was within expectations.

“We are expecting a 1.1% growth from last year versus MAA's 2%. We expect recovery in the second half of the year,” he said.

MAA's forecast of 615,000 units, if achieved, would be a new record high forthe country.

Despite the impact ofthe responsible lending guidelines and production disruption to Japanese maques in the early part of the year, total vehicle sales in the first half of 2012 outperformed sales achieved in the same period last year.

“Except for February, the monthly sales trend in the first four months of 2012 was consistently lower than 2011,” Aishah said.

She attributed this to the production disruption that was caused by the floods in Thailand last year andthe new lending guidelines.

Under the guidelines, loans are now approved based on net income compared with gross income previously.

Industry observers and analysts have said the new hire purchase rules would have the biggest impact on vehicles within the lower capacity passenger car segment. But Aishah noted that MAA's members were beginning to adapt to the lending rules and saw minimal impact on sales in the second half of the year.

For the first six months of 2012, total vehicle sales rose marginally by 1.4% to 301,224 units from 297,203 units a year earlier.

The total registrations of new passenger vehicles in the first six months of 2012 was 265,855 units. This accounted for 88.3% share of the TIV. This share was marginally lower than the 89.4% achieved in the same period in 2011 when TIV was at 265,654 units.

Meanwhile, 35,369 units of new commercial vehicles were sold in the first half of the year 3,820 units higher from the number of commercial vehicles sold in the previous corresponding period.

“TIV rebounded strongly in May and June. Going forward, we believe this upward trend would likely continue for the next few months,” Aishah said.

On another matter, Aishah clarified that all of MAA's members had been submitting their monthly vehicle sales data this year. It was reported recently that few car companies had stopped submitting their monthly figures to the MAA, citing the Malaysian Competition Act 2010 as a reason.

She said while all members submitted their aggregate (total) sales figures, some had stopped disclosing sales by model breakdown.

Aishah said these companies were Mercedes Benz, BMW, Euromobil, Volvo, Isuzu Malaysia, Nasim (Peugeot), Sinotruck and Proton Edar.

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