Malaysia's new vehicle market expanded by 9.6% to 54,776 units in March from 49,987 units in the same month of last year, according to registration data released by the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

This followed an overall positive performance in the first two months of the year, resulting in a 5.9% rise in first quarter sales to 143,064 units from 135,110 units in the same period of last year.

Passenger vehicles sales increased by 12.6% to 50,101 units last month from 44,488 units a year earlier, helped by the recent launch of new SUV models by the two national car companies Proton and Perodua.

Commercial vehicle sales declined 15% to 4,675 units from 5,499 previously.

In the first quarter of the year, sales of passenger vehicles were up by 8.3% at 131,114 units, from 121,060 units a year earlier, while commercial vehicle sales declined by 15% to 11,950 units from 14,050 units.