New vehicle sales in Malaysia fell by 0.2% to 44,575 units in January from weak year-earlier sales of 44,667 units, according to registration data released by the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

The vehicle market has struggled to rebound from the 13% drop to 580,124 units in 2016, with sales in 2017 falling further– by 0.6% to 576,635 units -despite a sharp acceleration in economic activity in the country. GDP growth rebounded to 5.9% after a sharp slowdown to 4.3% in 2016.

The passenger vehicle segment led the market lower last month, with sales falling by 2.3% year-on-year to 39,018 units, while commercial vehicle sales jumped by 18% to5,557 units - driven by strong growth in economic output.

Vehicle production in the country jumped by over 49% to 68,002 units last month from 45,532 units a year earlier, however, as dealers increased stocks.

The MAA expects the overall vehicle market to expand by 2.3% to 590,600 units in 2018, helped by continued strong domestic and global economic growth.

This view is shared by the market's leading brand Perodua, which also expects its own sales to grow by 2% to 209,000 units this year from 204,900 units in 2017.

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more