The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) which represents most of the country’s vehicle manufacturers and distributors, has reported total Malaysian new vehicle sales of 396,381 units in 2001, a 16% gain on the previous year.

Passenger car sales last year rose 16% to 327,447 units. Growth of car sales for 2002 is forecast by MAA at a much slower 4%.

National carmaker Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd (Proton), which enjoys preferential tariff treatment from the government, led the market and accounted for 64% of total passenger car sales in 2001.

Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd, Malaysia’s second national carmaker partly owned by Japan’s Daihatsu, was the second best seller with a 29% market share.

Vehicle sales in Malaysia were helped last year by low interest rates and a procession of new models. These positive market drivers are however expected to be weaker in 2002.

Malaysia’s economy slowed markedly during the second half of 2001.