Vehicle sales in the ASEAN region were flat in Q3

Vehicle sales in the ASEAN region were flat in Q3

New vehicle sales in south-east Asia stabilised in the third quarter after declining sharply in the second quarter, according to data compiled exclusively for just-auto.

Sales volumes in the region's six main markets combined were flat at 770,221 units in the third quarter, compared with 770,802 units in the same period of last year, reflecting slower declines in two largest markets - Indonesia and Thailand.

In the first nine months of the year regional sales declined by 6.7% at 2,220,806 units, compared with 2,380,368 units previously, after a drop of almost 10% in the first half of the year.

Sales in the region's largest market, Indonesia, fell by 18% to 238,619 units in the third quarter - a slight improvement on the 22% decline reported in the second quarter. Year-to-date sales were more than 18% lower at 764,119 units, reflecting the continued slowdown in the country's economic growth.

Sales in Thailand fell by just under 11% year-on-year to 184,822 units in the third quarter, compared with a 21% drop in the second quarter. This resulted in a 14.6% decline in cumulative sales to 553,826 units over the nine-month period, with some segments showing encouraging signs of recovery.

Sales in Malaysia expanded by 2.5% year-on-year to 163,204 units in the third quarter after declining by 11% in the second quarter. This improvement helped reduce the year-to-date decline to just 1.4% at 485,388 units, with the market stabilising following the introduction of the new goods and sales tax in April.

The Philippines market continues to be driven higher by strong domestic consumption and low interest rates. Sales rose by more than 21% year-on-year to 80,350 units in the third quarter after a 16% rise in the second quarter. Year-to-date sales were up by over 19% at 222,504 units - excluding some of the smaller imported brands.

Sales in Vietnam expanded by almost 51% year-on-year to 52,963 units in the third quarter, resulting in a 60% rise in year-to-date sales to a record 144,674 units, as the economy continued to benefit from rising investment and exports.

The Singapore vehicle market continued its strong cyclical recovery, with third-quarter sales rising by 47% to 18,400 units and year-to-date sales 66% higher at 50,295 units.

Indonesia

New vehicle sales in Indonesia fell by just under 18% year-on-year to 238,619 units in the third quarter of 2015, marginally better than the 22% fall in the second quarter. Year-to-date sales were just over 18% lower at 764,119 units.

Economic growth is estimated at 4.7-4.8% in the first nine months of the year, compared with over 5% for the whole of 2014, reflecting continued weakness in commodity prices, declining exports and lacklustre domestic consumption.

High interest rates continued to hold back domestic consumption, while the sharp depreciation of the rupiah in the third quarter put additional pressure on public and corporate finances. The currency has rebounded since the beginning of October, however.

The main bright spot in the third quarter was an 18% increase in realised foreign direct investment (FDI) to IDR92.5trn after a similar rise in the second quarter, reflecting progress by the government in getting some infrastructure projects underway.

The slower decline in the vehicle market in the third quarter, and in September in particular, reflects the release of important new models such as the Toyota Avanza and the effects of bringing forward the Indonesian Motor Show to August.

Nevertheless, overall new vehicle demand in the country remains weak, with the local industry association Gaikindo expecting full-year sales to fall to between 950,000-1,000,000 units in 2015 – down by over 20% on last year.

Thailand

The new vehicle market in Thailand fell by just under 11% year-on-year to 184,822 units in the third quarter, a marked improvement on the 21% decline reported in the second quarter, according to data released by the Federation of Thai Industries.

Some segments of the vehicle market, such as large passenger cars and trucks, are showing signs of recovery after the sharp declines seen over the last two years. The largest market segment, that of 1-ton pickup trucks, continues to struggle, however, with depressed commodity prices continuing to hold back replacement activity.

Total sales in the first nine months of the year were 14.6% lower at 553,826 units compared with 648,116 units in the same period of last year, reflecting a very weak economic rebound from last year's near-recession.

After growing by just 2.8% in the second quarter from depressed year-earlier levels, the Thai economy continues to struggle with weak exports, sluggish domestic consumption and depressed agricultural and other commodity prices.

Consumer spending remains weak despite successive cuts in the Bank of Thailand's benchmark rate this year to a historic low of 1.5%, reflecting high household debt and reluctance on the part of commercial banks to take on risk.

On the plus side, tourist arrivals have rebounded this year from last year's lows, helped by a sharp increase in visitors from China, while foreign direct investment has also recovered strongly.

Despite these positive signs, Bank of Thailand last month cut its full-year GDP growth forecast for 2015 to 2.7%, from 3.0% previously. The Federation of Thai Industries now expects the vehicle market to fall by 10% this year to around 800,000 units.

The vehicle market is expected to benefit from recent new model launches, including the best-selling Toyota Hilux. New excise taxes based on emissions and fuel-efficiency due to be introduced at the beginning of next year may also encourage purchasing activity in the fourth quarter.

Malaysia

Malaysia's new vehicle market rebounded strongly in September, helping to lift third-quarter sales by 2.5% year-on-year to 163,204 units, based on data gathered by the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

This followed a dismal second quarter, when the vehicle market plunged by 11% - immediately after the introduction of the new goods and service tax in April. Cumulative sales in the first nine months of the year were 1.4% lower at 485,388 units, compared with 492,322 units in the same period of last year.

GDP growth has slowed progressively over the last twelve months, from 5.8% in the fourth quarter of last year to 5.6% in the first quarter, 4.9% in the second and similar in the third quarter.

Domestic consumption, both public and private, continues to underpin growth, although confidence has been impacted by the sharp slump in the ringgit against the US dollar in the last few months.

Manufacturing output growth improved to 4.3% in August despite weak mining output, helped by a recovery in export activity. The central bank has kept its benchmark interest rate steady at 3.25% since last year, a level it sees as underpinning domestic economic growth while containing inflation and maintaining support for the ringgit.

The MAA expects full-year vehicle sales to reach 670,000 units in 2015, a level which would require further growth in the fourth quarter.

Vehicle sales in the ASEAN region by market, 2012-15

  2012 2013 2014 1-9 2014 1-9 2015 % chg
Indonesia  1,116,230 1,229,901 1,208,019 932,668 764,119 -18.1
Thailand  1,436,335 1,325,079 881,832 648,116 553,826 -14.6
Malaysia  627,753 655,793 666,465 492,322 485,388 -1.4
Philippines  182,779 212,682 270,372 186,839 222,504 19.1
Vietnam  80,652 96,692 133,588 90,139 144,674 60.5
Singapore  33,914 27,374 42,980 30,284 50,295 66.1
Total 3,477,663 3,547,521 3,203,256 2,380,368 2,220,806 -6.7
 





Sources: www.AsiaMotorBusiness.com from industry sources

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