Malaysia’s new vehicle market was up slightly in February 2020, by 1.5% to 40,503 units from 39,994 units in the same month of last year, according to registration data released by the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

February’s positive market performance was seen as just a weak rebound from the sharp decline in January when sales fell by 12% due mainly to the Lunar New Year holidays.

The association said growing concern last month over the global spread of the COVID19 coronavirus had significantly affected consumer and business confidence but this was expected to be more evident in the March sales data.

According to local reports, most vehicle manufacturers in the country had temporarily halted operations in compliance with the central government’s Movement Control Order, designed to slow the spread of the disease. 

National car company Proton, Hyundai assembler Inokom, Toyota, Honda and Volkswagen were among the companies to have shut down their operations this week until at least the end of March. 

Vehicle sales in the first two months of the year were down by 5.9% at 83,055 units compared with 88,263 units a year earlier.

Vehicle production in February was down by 16.6% year on year at 45,416 units with cumulative year to date output 9.1% lower at 85,787.