New vehicle sales in Malaysia plunged by almost 96% to 1,921 units in June 2021 from 44,755 units in the same month of last year, according to registration data released by Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

The government’s latest Movement Control Order (MCO), introduced at the beginning of June in response to surging cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant, brought the country’s vehicle market and most of the economy to an almost complete standstill.

With dealers not allowed to carry out sales activities under these latest restrictions in most of the country, the limited number of new vehicle registrations recorded was mainly from sales spilled over from the previous month.

This latest decline followed a strong rebound in May when volume doubled from extremely weak year-earlier levels. Economic growth in the country was still expected to be strong in the second quarter, after declining by 0.5% year-on-year in the first quarter, mainly due to extremely weak year-earlier data when the first MCO was introduced to slow the initial spread of the virus.

Economists expect this latest spike in infections and lockdown will have significantly slowed the country’s domestic growth momentum, however.

In the first half of 2021, the vehicle market was up by almost 44% to 249,129 units, from 173,545 units in the same period of last year, with passenger vehicle sales rising by 42% to 223,838 units while commercial vehicle sales were up 60% at 25,291 units.

Market leader Perodua’s sales increased by just over 39% to 97,290 units in the first six months of the year, followed by Proton with a 23% sales increase to 56,352 units UMW Toyota 33,705 units (+13.5%) and Honda 24,996 units (+10%).