New vehicle sales in Malaysia fell 1% to 62,833 units in February 2024 from 63,561 units in the same month of last year, according to registration data released by the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

Despite fewer working days due to the Lunar New Year holiday, the market suffered only a slight decline last month, suggesting continued strong underlying demand after sales increased 11% to a record high of 799,731 units in the whole of 2023.

The economy continued to grow strongly in the fourth quarter of 2023 with private consumption rising 4.2% despite the central bank hiking the benchmark interest rate from 1.75% to 3% in the last two years.

In the first two months of 2024, new vehicle sales increased 13% to 128,332 from 113,720 a year earlier, with passenger vehicle sales rising 18% to 117,373 units while commercial vehicle sales fell by 13% to 10,959.

Vehicle production rose 16% to 141,688 units.

At the beginning of the year the MAA said it expected vehicle registrations to fall 7% to 740,000 units in 2024 following last year’s record volume with sales of hybrid and electric vehicles of 74,000 units or 10% of sales. Battery electric vehicle sales (BEVs) were forecast to increase to 14,800 units.

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Local financial services firm RHB Research earlier this month confirmed its earlier expectation of a 22% market decline this year to 625,000 units, pointing out lower order backlogs at Perodua and Toyota.

Proton global sales rose 3% year on year to 26,484 units YTD, including a 51% rise in exports to 453 units.

The Saga remained the company’s best-selling model with 12,341 deliveries, followed by the Geely-based X50 compact SUV with 3,818 units the also Geely based S70 sedan 3,756 units and the Persona sedan 3,705 units.

UMW Toyota Motor reported a 14% decline in combined sales of Toyota and Lexus vehicles to 13,756 units year to date, despite the launch of many new models in the last year.