New vehicle sales in Malaysia fell by 12.6% year-on-year in October to 37,512 units compared with 42,915 units a year earlier, according to data released by the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA). This is the lowest level so far this year after 20% growth in the first nine months of the year.

Consumer and business sentiment has deteriorated significantly in the last month as a result of the deepening global economic downturn. Vehicle sales in October were 26% lower than the 50,729 units sold in September. Passenger car sales amounted to 33,418 units and commercial vehicles 4,094 units.

Cumulative sales in the first ten months of the year rose by 16.5% to 467,425 units, compared with 401,149 units a year earlier. Perodua led the market with 141,980 sales - with its Myvi and Viva the two best-selling models in the market. Proton came second with 121,338 sales, followed by Toyota with 84,746 units.

The government is preparing to introduce measures to stimulate economic growth, including a MYR 7 billion stimulus package and structural changes to encourage private investment. Earlier this month it cut its GDP growth forecast to 5% this year, from around 6%, and to 3.5% for next year. The central bank, Bank Negara, cut the overnight lending rate by 25 basis points to 3.25% earlier this week.

Tony Pugliese