New vehicle sales in Malaysia plunged by over 99% to just 141 units in April 2020 from 49,935 units in the same month of last year, as the government imposed lockdown restrictions on consumers and businesses to help slow the spread of the COVID19 coronavirus pandemic.

The Malaysian government issued its first Movement Control Order (MCO) on 18th March, which restricted people to staying at home for all but essential requirements such as food-buying and healthcare, while schools were closed, domestic and international travel was severely curtailed and all non-essential businesses were forced to shut down, including vehicle plants and dealerships.

According to data released by the Malaysia Automotive Association (MAA), new vehicle registrations fell by almost 45% to 106,601 units in the first four months of 2020 from 192,971 units in the same period of last year. Passenger vehicle sales fell by just over 44% to 101,747 units from 182,251 units, while commercial vehicle sales plunged by almost 50% to 6,972 units from 13,860 units.

The government began to lift some of its economic and social restrictions in early May, although consumer and business activity is still far from normal at present. Vehicle manufacturers were allowed to resume operations in early May, albeit at reduced capacity and with additional safeguards in place, while the Road Transportation Department only resumed registering new vehicles on 13th May.

The MAA said showroom traffic remains very slow, reflecting more stringent loan approval standards put in place by banks. Consumer and business uncertainty are also key factor..The association expects to see a sales rebound in May compared with the previous month, but volumes are still expected to be much lower than a yearearlier.

Vehicle production in the country fell by just under 45% to 108,719 in the first four months of 2020 from 196,111 units a year earlier.

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