New vehicle sales in Malaysia jumped 39% to 62,649 units in February 2023 from 45,062 a year earlier, according to the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

The new vehicle market continued to surge forward this year after record sales in 2022 when new registrations rose 42% to 720,658 units after two years of decline due to the Covid pandemic.

Sales last month benefited from additional working days due to this year’s early Lunar New Year holidays while the association also noted vehicle manufacturers continued to fulfill order backlogs as the end March deadline approached for customers to take delivery of vehicles purchased tax free under an earlier Covid recovery stimulus package.

In the first two months of 2023, sales rose 29% to 112,128 units, from 86,595 a year ago, with passenger vehicle volume rising 37% to 99,490 units and commercial vehicles up 7% to 12,638.

Market leader Perodua, backed by Daihatsu, reported a 33% rise to 46,385 units year to date (YTD) underpinned by the popular Bezza, Myvi and Axia and the recently launched Alza. The company, which said its sales were currently limited by capacity constraints and lingering semiconductor shortages, has targeted 314,000 local deliveries and production of 330,000 cars in 2023, helped also by the launch of the new one litre Axia small car last month.

Proton global sales rebounded 88% to 25,714 units YTD, from weak year earlier volume when output was affected by floods and semiconductor shortage. The Saga was its best selling model last month with 11,133 units followed by the Geely-based X50 compact SUV with 6,239 and the Persona subcompact with 4,352.

UMW Toyota reported a 15% sales increase to 16,083 units YTD, lifted by the introduction of new models and new variants of older models. The company also started taking orders for the upcoming Vios compact sedan. The company said it plans to launch a second hybrid model in additional to the Corolla Cross and, possibly, a new BEV later this year.

Earlier this year, the MAA said it expected overall vehicle sales to decline 10% to 650,000 units in 2023 after record sales in 2022, reflecting the withdrawal of sales incentives and weaker overall demand.