New vehicle sales in Malaysia plunged continued to plunge in August 2021, by 67% to 17,500 units from 53,838 units in the same month of last year, according to registration data released by Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

Economic activity in the country last month continued to be severely impacted by the government’s latest Movement Control Order (MCO) which was introduced at the beginning of June in response to surging cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

The government began to ease restrictions in mid August as infections continued to fall, allowing dealers on the Malaysian peninsula to restart activities while those located in Sabah and Sarawak had been allowed to operate throughout the lockdown.

Compared with extremely depressed levels in July, the market in August was up by 147%, with month on month growth expected to continue in the following months helped by the current sales tax exemption which has been extended until the end of the year.

In the first eight months of the year, the vehicle market was down by over 4% at 273,757 units, from 286,261 units in the same period of last year with passenger vehicles sales down by over 6% at 243,851 while commercial vehicles were up by close to 13% at 29,906 units.

Overall vehicle production in the country fell by 78% to 13,961 units in August but was up by over 2% at 258024 units year to date.

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Proton confirmed its sales in August were “not good” and revealed, in the three months since the lockdown began in June, it sold just 5,354 vehicles while sales in the first eight months of the year were up by 1.6% at 62,637 units.

Perodua sold 6,988 vehicles in August, up from just 655 units in July, while year to date sales were down by 12.5% at 104,933 units.

Toyota and Lexus distributor UMW Toyota Motor reported a 56% year on year sales decline to 2,524 units in August while sales in the first eight months of the year were 20% higher at 31,734 units.

Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s vice president of marketing and sales, Michael Jopp, was bullish on the recovery prospects for the market in the coming months after business restrictions were eased last month, but acknowledged that the global semiconductor shortage remains a major issue.