The Malaysian new vehicle market plunged by 24% to 31,241 units in September from already depressed year earlier sales of 40,956 units, according to the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

This widely expected decline followed strong sales growth in the previous three months as buyers brought forward purchases ahead of the reintroduction of the 10% Sales and Services Tax (SST) at the beginning of September.

The previous Goods and Service Tax (GST) was scrapped at the beginning of June by the newly elected government under prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Passenger vehicle sales fell by 26% to 27,022 units last month while commercial vehicle sales were down by 5.6% at 4,219 units.

In the first nine months of the year, total vehicle sales were still 7% higher at 454,971 units from 426,678 units in the same period of 2017.

Vehicle production in the country was up by 10.3% at 420,498 units in the same period from 381,171 units previously.

The market is expected to remain weak throughout the final quarter of the year, meaning sales may fall way short of the MAA's 585,000 full year forecast.