New vehicle sales in Malaysia plunged 8.3% year on year last month to 43,944 units.

The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) said the figure was up from the 41,135 vehicles sold in April, helped by a 16.6% jump in sales of locally made cars.

Sales of imported cars dipped 4.5% from April as a result of an unexpected increase in interest rates on hire-purchase loans, AFP reported, citing association data.

Sales of motor vehicles totalled 203,760 in the first five months of the year, 11% lower than this time last year.

MAA forecast sales at 480,000 units for the whole of this year, down from 548,115 in 2008.