Malaysians buy more SUVs as MPV falters

Industry observers believe the allure of SUV will continue to increase with new launches planned in the near term

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic TMR FILE

MORE Malaysians are buying SUVs, abandoning the larger MPVs and giving saloon vehicles a run for the money. Globally, consumers have been shifting to the sportier four-wheel drive as the trend, while carmakers including luxury brands have come up with their own models of such vehicles.

Official statistics showed that consumers bought 66,447 units of SUVs in the January through June period of this year, a 77.4% jump or 28,983 units more compared to 37,464 units sold during the same period last year.

Malaysian Automotive Association’s statistics showed SUVs accounted for close to 25% of the total private car volume of 270,875 units recorded during the period. The market share of SUVs for the first six months of last year was only 14%.

Sales of MPVs plummeted by 32.6% or 10,059 units to 20,757 vehicles during the January-June period compared to 30,816 in the same corresponding period last year.

MPVs only accounted for 7.7% of the passenger car market for the first half of this year (1H19), a stark decline compared to the 11.8% market share.

“2019/2020 is the year of SUVs. People are opting for SUVs when it is a trend and the prices are about the same and getting cheaper compared to MPVs,” Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd analyst Wan Mustaqim Wan Ab Aziz told The Malaysian Reserve.

Proton Holdings Bhd and Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) are behind the jump in SUV sales in the 1H19.

In the January to June period, Proton sold 15,194 units of X70, while Perodua said Aruz continues to boost the volume with 24,663 bookings and 15,089 units delivered during the period. Aruz and X70 alone accounted for almost half of the total SUVs sold in the market.

Other key players in the SUV segment are Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Bermaz Auto Bhd with its top-selling Mazda CX-5, and premium automakers Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Sdn Bhd and BMW Group Malaysia.

Honda’s key SUVs are HR-V and CR-V which accounted for 34% of the company’s total vehicle sales during the January-June 2019 period.

Industry observers believed the allure of SUV will continue to increase in the future with new launches planned in the near term. BAuto is said to introduce all-new Mazda CX-8, CX-30, facelifted CX-3 and CX-5 in the next few months.

Proton plans to launch its second SUV X50 by August next year, while Perodua is reportedly coming up with another SUV as well in 2020.

There were no major MPV launches in the last six months, except for the updated Proton Exora RC (running change) and UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd’s facelifted Toyota Avanza.

At the recent 1H19 review, Perodua president and CEO Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad said the carmaker will keep selling MPV Alza despite the slowing demand.