Vehicle sales in the ASEAN region’s six largest markets combined rose by almost 23% to 832,390 units in the first quarter of 2022 from 677,397 units a year earlier, according to data compiled by www.AsiaMotorBusiness.com from various industry sources including vehicle manufacturers, trade associations and government departments.
Indonesia led the rebound with vehicle sales surging by over 41% to 263,822 units, as most markets in the region returned to pre-pandemic levels despite new restrictions imposed in the region during the quarter in response to the latest surge in Covid infections.
Sales in Thailand rose by over 22% to 231,189 units in the first quarter, while in Malaysia the market was up by over 14% at 159,752 units, with stronger growth expected for the remainder of the year.
Interest rates have been kept at historically low levels and governments continue to provide fiscal stimulus to drive economic growth. A surge in commodity prices has also helped some economies, while consumer and business sentiment has been lifted by a gradual return of international tourism to the region.
Rising prices of energy and other commodities as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine are beginning to be felt, however, while its impact on exports has so far been limited.
Sales in Vietnam surged by 29% to 85,797 units in the first quarter of 2022 from already buoyant levels a year earlier, driven by 5% growth in economic activity in the country.
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Sales in the Philippines, excluding data from members of the AVID importers’ association, rose by just over 6% to 74,754 vehicles in the first-quarter. Total sales were lifted by a 43% surge in March after a slow start to the year due mainly to restrictions imposed in January in response to the latest surge in the covid pandemic.
New vehicle sales in Indonesia continued to rebound in the first quarter of 2022, by over 41% to 263,822 from weak year-earlier sales of 187,021 units, according to data released by local industry association Gaikindo.
Passenger vehicle sales surged by over 46% to 197,762 units while commercial vehicle sales were up by over 28% at 66,060 units.
The country’s economy continued to rebound from weak year-earlier levels, although a surge in Covid infections in the country in March is expected to have dampened growth for the quarter. First-quarter GDP growth is estimated at over 4%, driven by strong domestic consumption and exports.
The vehicle market has benefited from historically-low interest rates, with Bank Indonesia holding its benchmark rate at 3.5%, as well as by a large number of important new model releases over the last year.
Toyota reported 41% sales rise to 81,095 vehicles in the first quarter, driven by the all-new popular Avanza compact MPV, the new Rush compact SUV and the Raize small crossover vehicle.
Daihatsu’s sales were up by over 44% at 50,820 units, lifted by the recent launch of the Rocky small crossover vehicle, the new Xenia compact MPV and the new Terios compact SUV.
Mitsubishi made the strongest gains among the country’s mainstream automakers, with sales rising by almost 55% to 33,654 units, thanks to strong demand for its Xpander and Xpander Cross models, while Suzuki’s sales increased by just 14% to 22,371 units.
New vehicle sales in Thailand increased by over 22% to 231,189 units in the first quarter from 189,093 in the same period of last year, driven by strong demand for pickup trucks. The data exclude some significant brands, particularly commercial vehicles by Chinese and European manufacturers and also BMW and Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles.
While economic activity has picked up in recent months, helped by government stimulus policies, a surge in Covid infections in March and the Russian invasion of Ukraine is expected to dampen economic activity in the country.
Bank of Thailand kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a historic low of 0.5% to help underpin domestic consumption amid rising uncertainty. The Finance Ministry cut its full-year GDP growth forecast to 3.5% from 4.0% as a result of the war in the Ukraine.
Vehicle exports fell by almost 6% to 243,124 units in the first quarter, which the Federation of Thai Industries blamed in part on the continued shortage of semiconductors for some car models.
In view of the strong first-quarter market performance, the FTI suggested full-year domestic sales could reach 900,000 units this year – up from its earlier forecast of between 800,000-850,000 units, after sales fell by 4% to 759,119 units in 2021.
Registrations of new vehicles in Malaysia rose by 14.5% to 159,752 units in the first quarter of 2022 from 139,499 unit a year earlier, according to registration data released by the Malaysia Automotive Association (MAA). Passenger vehicle sales rose by 14% to 140,140 units, while commercial vehicle sales surged by 21% to 19,612 units.
The market continued to be disrupted by last December’s floods in key parts of the country, with Proton the worst affected among the country’s mainstream automakers. Other manufacturers have since managed to ramp up production to fulfil strong order backlogs.
The country’s leading automaker Perodua saw its sales increase by over 6% to 61,624 units in the first quarter and UMW Toyota’s sales surged by 32% to 22,447 units, while Proton’s sales plunged by 19% to 26,706 units in the same period.
Economic growth is expected to approach 5% in the first quarter of 2022, driven by strong exports and domestic stimulus measures which is helping to drive up domestic consumption. Over the full year GDP growth is forecast to exceed 6% from weak 2021 levels.
The MAA has forecast the domestic market to expand by 18% to over 600,000 units in 2022 after the declines of the last two years.