Perodua's top executive sees growth in Malaysian vehicle sales slowing sharply in the second half of 2008 after a recent steep rise in fuel prices.

Car sales will only grow 6% this year after surging by more than a quarter in the first five months of the year, managing director Syed Hafiz Abu Bakar told Reuters.

The news agency noted that the Malaysian government hiked petrol prices 41% and diesel 63% by reducing state subsidies.

Hafiz reportedly said he was expecting Perodua, the largest passenger car maker in the country with a 39% share, to achieve 5% growth in sales for 2008 after a robust first half and a  prospective difficult second six months.

"Any growth in the first-half is not really a big deal as the base was low. For us, the second-half is the challenge," he told Reuters, adding that things would get worse if banks tightened lending criteria.