New vehicle sales in Malaysia increased by 12.7% to a new record high of 605,156 units in 2010, from 536,905 units in 2009, according to data released by industry association Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA). The previous record high, of 552,316 new vehicle registrations, was set in 2005.

Passenger vehicle sales increased by 11.8% to 543,594 units, while commercial vehicles sales by 21.8% to 61,562 units.

The country’s second national carmaker, Perodua, maintained its lead position with 188,641 sales last year, for a 34.7% share of the passenger vehicle market. Proton came second with 156,960 sales, for a market share of 28.9%.

Toyota sold a total of 71,065 units, up 8.1% year on year, while Honda sold 44,483 units (+14.7%) and Nissan 26,322 units ((+13.6).

The association expects sales to grow further in 2011, to around 618,000 units, as the last year’s positive momentum continues. Consumer sentiment remains high and new models will help maintain strong buying interest, the association added.

Sales of hybrid cars are expected to increase sharply following the government’s decision to exempt buyers from excise taxes. Toyota and Honda have reported strong orders for the Prius and Insight models respectively.