The Malaysian new vehicle market declined by 12% to 48,188 units in December from 54,728 units in the same month of the previous year, according to the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

The weak end to the year reflects increasing uncertainty following a significant slowdown in economic growth in the second half of the year as export demand declined sharply. Consumer spending and fixed investment remained strong, however, according to the latest available data.

The association's president Datuk Aishah Ahmad also pointed to delays in the government's approval process of new vehicle prices which has led to delays in new model launches.

Full-year sales were 3.8% higher at 598,714 units in 2018 from 576,635 units in 2017, lifted by a sales tax holiday in the third quarter and strong wage growth; the total comprises 514,679 passenger vehicles and 65,512 commercial vehicles.

The MAA expects the overall vehicle market to be slightly positive in 2019, with new models such as new SUVs from Proton and Perodua helping to underpin demand.