New vehicle sales in Malaysia rose by over 21% to 57,991 units in April 2024 from 47,802 units in the same month of last year, according to registration data released by the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

This follows a 10% decline in March from strong year-earlier volumes and the market is still widely expected to weaken this year after hitting record volumes in the previous two years, as it rebounded from the restrictions imposed during Covid pandemic earlier in the decade and subsequent supply chain disruptions.

Malaysia’s economy has strengthened this year despite the central bank having hiked its benchmark interest rate from 1.75% to 3.0% in the last two years. GDP growth accelerated to 4.2% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2024 compared with 3.0% in the previous quarter, driven by a strong rebound in exports and a moderate improvement in domestic consumption.

In the first four months of the year new vehicle sales increased by over 8% to 260,236 units from 240,417 in the same period of last year, with passenger vehicle sales rising by 11% to 238,247 units while commercial vehicle volumes were down by 11% at 21,989 units. Total vehicle production in the country was up by 12% at 267,326 units in this period.

Proton’s global sales increased by 1% year-on-year to 50,175 units in the first four months of 2024, including 835 exports. The Saga remained by far the company’s best-selling model with deliveries up by 9% at 23,278 units; followed by the Geely-based S70 sedan with 7,463 units; the Geely-based X50 compact SUV 7,086 units; and the Persona sedan 6,799 units. UMW Toyota Motor reported 3.5% decline in combined sales of Toyota and Lexus vehicles to 30,789 units.

Earlier this year the MAA forecast total vehicle registrations in the country to fall by over 7% to 740,000 units in 2024, including 59,200 hybrids and 14,800 battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Local financial services firm RHB Research was more downbeat, forecasting the overall market to decline by 22% to 625,000 units – pointing to lower order backlogs at key brands such as Perodua and Toyota.

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Proton’s S70 sedan