Business

Saturday February 2, 2013

Non-national marques making a splash among consumers

By CHOONG EN HAN
han@thestar.com.my


RECENTLY, a friend took delivery of her brand new Ford Fiesta to replace her trusty Proton Satria that had served her for the past nine years.

In her own words, “I'm not looking back!” and her sentiment is probably growing in prevalence among consumers who are driving the sales of non-national marques and total industry sales to record highs.

Malaysian Automotive Institute (MAI) CEO Madani Sahari says the desire for models packed with more features and a price war have attracted consumers to go for non-national marques.

Consumers have also leveraged on discounts given by the different car manufacturers.

“The price war was the most aggressive to date and it was driven by the need for the vehicle manufacturers to remain competitive as market forces drive vehicle cost competitiveness resulting from the commencement of industry liberalisation,” he says.

In general, family cars remained the most popular models and the trend in demand is moving towards models with good fuel efficiency such as the Myvi, Saga, Preve, City, Vios, Elantra and Forte.

Last year, new auto sales in Malaysia inched up 4.6% to hit a record high last year, with total industry volume (TIV) at 627,753 units, showing no signs of slowing down yet.

In the premium continental car segment, BMW Group Malaysia and Mercedes Benz Malaysia have their respective record breaking sales.

BMW recorded sales of 6,318 units of passenger cars a commendable 26% increase in sales compared with 2011.

Mercedes chalked up sales totalling 5,817 units of passenger cars, a 6.9% climb from 5,439 units recorded in 2011.

Volkswagen did tremendously well with sales surging by 77% to exceed the 13,000-unit mark, thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign and the launch of 11 new models and variants. Its sales made it the leading continental brand after the Japanese car marques.

Another European marque, Audi also recorded decent growth from a low base by recording 1,414 units, a 52% increase from 927 units recorded in 2011.

Mercedes Benz Malaysia president and chief executive officer Roland S. Folger conceded that the number of Mercedes passenger cars sold in Malaysia might double if sales from the grey import market was taken into account.

“The sales of these grey import cars are huge and they are just as big as the OEM segment,” he says.

Madani said the total sales of second hand cars were about 500,000 yearly, and out of that, grey import vehicles was only about 35,000 units. “There is an incremental compounded annual growth rate of about 2.5% for the past five years. This year, MAI forecasts an increase of 3.5% or 638,000, and according to initial estimates, Malaysia will reach 720,000 to 750,000 TIV by 2015,” he says.

Meanwhile, Toyota continued to entrenched itself as the leading non-national marque with a total sales breaching the six-digit mark at 105,151 units.

Its share of TIV was 16.8% , only trailing national carmakers Proton and Perodua.

“As of end-2012, Proton commanded 25.6% of the market share with 141,120 units while Toyota came in third with 74,171 units with a market share of 13.4%,” an analyst says.

However, he notes that Proton recorded a decline in sales for 2012 and this is not healthy for the company when its competitor Perodua is achieving another year of record sales.

Observers believe that with the increase in disposable income and a penchant for non-national marques, consumers are now trading their current cars for foreign brands.

Chinese commercial vehicles manufacturers are also making their entry into Malaysia, with the likes of GWM, JAC, Changan, Grand Tiger among others scoring substantial sales for 2012.

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