New vehicle sales in the ASEAN region’s six largest markets combined surged by 53% to 846,562 units in the third quarter of 2022 from 553,564 units in the same period of last year, according to industry data compiled for Just Auto.

Growth was driven by sharp rebounds from weak year-earlier volumes and improving supply chain bottlenecks, while buyers also looked to lock in interest rate deals early in the tightening cycle.

Economic growth in the region also accelerated in the third quarter, lifted by a recovery in the region’s tourism sector after travel restrictions were widely lifted in the second quarter. Strong demand for commodities and energy also helped lift output and investment in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

Vietnam and Malaysia enjoyed the strongest growth in the third quarter, with volumes surging by 248% and 166% respectively from very weak year earlier levels – when strict lockdown policies were in force to slow a surge in Covid infections. Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines also enjoyed stronger third-quarter sales as supply chains continued to improve, helping manufacturers fulfil pent-up demand.

Sales in Vietnam jumped by 248% to 64,789 units in the third quarter, according to data released by the Vietnam Automotive Manufacturers Association (VAMA), as the market rebounded from last year’s lockdowns. Cumulative nine-month sales were up by almost 56% at 264,951 units. The country’s central bank hiked its benchmark interest rate by a further 100 basis points to 6.0% in late October following a sharp drop in the dong.


Third-quarter sales in the Philippines, excluding data from members of the AVID importers’ association, rose by over 28% to 93,280 units from weak year-earlier sales of 58,838 units, lifting the nine-month total by almost 30% to 248,154 units. The Philippine central bank has lifted its benchmark interest rate by 225 basis points to 4.25% since it began hiking in May.

In the first nine months of 2022 regional sales were up by over 30% at 2,456,866 units from 1,883,543 units in the same period of last year, according to the available data. The outlook for the fourth quarter is much weaker, with a market slowdown expected in Indonesia after tax discounts were withdrawn at the end of September. Malaysia also withdrew similar sales tax discounts at the end of June, although buyers are still able to take delivery of their vehicles until the end of March 2023.

With supply chain bottlenecks having improved in the third quarter, significant pent-up demand in key markets has already been fulfilled. Central banks in the region began hiking interest rates in the second quarter amid rising inflation and weakening local currencies against the US dollar. Combined with slowing global economic growth, regional growth will also likely slow in the coming quarters.

Indonesia

New vehicle sales in Indonesia increased by almost 27% to 282,895 units in the third quarter of 2022 from 223,068 units in the same period of last year, according to data released by local industry association Gaikindo.

Economic growth in the country continued to be underpinned by buoyant commodity prices, rising foreign direct investment and a return of domestic and international tourism after travel restrictions were lifted earlier this year. Bank of Indonesia once again hiked its benchmark interest rate by 50% basis points to 4.75% in October to help control inflation and underpin the local currency against the US dollar.

The vehicle market regained significant momentum in the third quarter, helped by improving supply chain bottlenecks and as buyers anticipated the withdrawal at the end of September of the luxury tax discounts put in place to support the market during the pandemic. Buyers also looked to lock in interest rate deals early on in the hiking cycle.

Total vehicle sales in the first nine months of the year were up by almost 21% at 758,216 units from 627,537 units a year earlier, with passenger vehicle sales rising by over 22% to 571,494 units while commercial vehicle sales were up by just over 17% at 186,722 units.

Toyota’s nine-month sales increased by 17% to 243,080 units, driven by the recent launch of popular models such as the all-new popular Avanza compact MPV, the Raize small crossover vehicle and the new Rush compact SUV. Daihatsu’s sales rose by 21% to 140,398 units during this period, lifted by the Rocky small crossover vehicle and the new Xenia and Terios models; while Honda’s sales increased by 42% to 96,985 units, helped by the recent launch the new HR-V and BR-V models. By contrast, Mitsubishi’s sales declined by 3% to 75,075 units year-to-date, while Suzuki’s sales were 2% lower at 64,595 units.

Gaikindo chairman Jongkie Sugiarto said he expected the vehicle market to reach 950,000 units in 2022, representing a 7% rise on last year’s 887,200 units, but this which would imply a 26% decline in the fourth quarter.

Thailand

New vehicle sales in Thailand surged by 32% to 205,900 units in the third quarter of 2022 from 155,984 a year earlier, according to wholesale data released by the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI). The market benefited from strong domestic economic growth in the third quarter, driven by the loosening of travel restrictions which provided a significant lift to the country’s all-important tourism sector.

GDP is expected to have expanded by 3.5% year-on-year in the third quarter, after growing 2.5% in the second quarter. Bank of Thailand once again raised its benchmark interest rate in September, by 25 basis points to 1.0%, to combat high inflation amid rising import prices and strong consumer demand. The vehicle market in the third quarter was also lifted by improving supplies of semiconductors, helping vehicle manufacturers fulfil strong order backlogs.

Vehicle sales in the first nine months of the year increased by almost 20% to 633,687 units compared with 529,075 units in the same period of 2021, driven mainly by strong demand for pickup trucks. Vehicle production increased by around 14% to 1,364,037 units in this period, while exports were slightly higher at 706,444 units.

The FTI reconfirmed its earlier forecast for the domestic market to expand by 12% to 850,000 units in 2022, but added that sales could reach 900,000 units if semiconductor supplies continue to improve.

Malaysia

Registrations of new vehicles in Malaysia surged by 166% to 185,412 units in the third quarter of 2022, according to registration data released by the Malaysia Automotive Association (MAA), as the market rebounded from depressed sales of 69,649 units year-earlier – when the country was under lock-down due the Covid pandemic.

Domestic vehicle manufacturers continued to fulfill backlogs of orders received before the end of June, when the government discontinued the sales tax exemption put in place a year earlier to help the economy rebound from last year’s lockdowns. Buyers with confirmed purchases before the end of June will be allowed to register their vehicles without incurring the sales tax until 31 March 2023, which will help support the market in the short term.

In the first draft of the 2023 state budget released earlier this month the Malaysian government announced that import and excise duty exemptions for imported electric vehicles (EVs) will be extended for another year, until the end of 2024. Companies looking to import EVs before the end of 2023 will also not be required to pay the approved permit fee.

Total vehicle sales in the first nine months of 2022 rose by almost 62% to 516,798 units from 318,827 in the same period of last year, with passenger vehicle sales up by 62% at 457,160 units while commercial vehicle sales surged by 66% to 59,638 units. Vehicle production in the country increased by 67% to 508,761 units in this period.

Market leader Perodua’s sales jumped by 65% to 196,354 units in the first nine months of the year, driven by popular models such as the Myvi, Axia and Bezza. In July, the company launched the new 1.5L Alza model, helping to lift sales in the last two months of the quarter.

Proton said its global sales increased by 40% to 102,353 units year-to-date, with production picking up in recent months following severe disruption earlier in the year due to floods. The Saga is the company’s best-selling model with some 40,600 sales year-to-date, followed by Geely-based models such as the X70 and X50 SUVs. Around 4,600 vehicles were exported so far this year – mainly to markets such as Pakistan, Egypt and Brunei. The company re-entered the South African market last month after a ten-year absence.

UMW Toyota reported a 54% rise in nine-month sales to 70,872 units, thanks to strong demand for models such as the locally assembled Corolla Cross Hybrid and the Hilux pickup truck. The new Veloz compact MPV and the revised Innova are scheduled to be launched in the fourth quarter.