Foreign brands slump as Proton rises to fame

Many non-national automakers, namely Japanese marquees, suffered from weaker sales due to strong competition from Proton


THE majority of foreign automotive brands had a tough time last year, albeit the encouraging trend of total industry volume (TIV) which surpassed the 600,000-unit mark in sales — the first after record year 2015.

Many non-national automakers, namely Japanese marquees, suffered from weaker sales due to strong competition from Proton Holdings Bhd which had ventured into the SUV market and swallowed the market share of its rivals.

Stronger demand for local cars in the absence of major new model launches, coupled with the delay in car pricing approval, was believed to be the reason for the lower sales volume last year, Affin Hwang Investment Bank Bhd (Affin Hwang Capital) said in a sector note yesterday.

The Malaysian Reserve looks into the brands and segments, both national and non-national, in terms of their contribution to the total TIV in 2019.

National Cars versus Non-nationals

National carmakers Proton and Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd’s (Perodua) 2019 market share stood firm at 56.4%, 7.6% higher than 48.8% reported in 2018.

Despite a slim increase of TIV last year, non-national brands had to settle for 36.8% of the total market share last year.

Non-national automakers sold 306,000 vehicles in 2018 and comprised more than half of the total 2018 TIV of 598,589 units sold.

Last year, the non-Malaysian brands only recorded about 193,700 of vehicle sales, around 112,300 units less year-on-year (YoY), according to Affin Hwang Capital’s estimates and data from the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

Last year, the industry reported 604,287 vehicles sold, where Perodua and Proton made a bulk of the total market share with 240,341 (43.7%) and 100,183 (18.2%) units sold respectively.

Only Toyota Survived the Bumpy Road

According to Affin Hwang Capital, all non-Malaysian marquees faced a gloomy 2019 sales performance except for Toyota Motor Corp.

“Most Japanese marquees saw lower sales volume in 2019 — Honda Motor Co Ltd (-17%) YoY, Nissan Motor Co Ltd (-26%) and Mazda Motor Corp (-27%; current backlog at 1,200 units).

“Except for Toyota, which increased its sales by 5%, attributed to the all-new Vios and Yaris launches,” its analyst Brian Yeoh said in the report.

Vios was launched in January, while Yaris was unveiled in April 2019. Both models were highlighted to be the main drivers for UMW Holdings Bhd’s sales and profit for the year.

As a result, 70,000 Toyota vehicles were sold last year compared to about 66,500 the year before. Toyota remains the fourth most popular brand with an 11.6% market share, slightly behind Honda at 14.1%.

Honda, on the other hand, has lost its second rank to Proton. The Japanese marquee finished the year with 85,400 compared to 102,300 vehicles sold in 2018.

Nissan finished fifth with 20,800 cars sold last year, down from 28,200 units transacted YoY, followed by Mazda which also faced a decline in sales from 16,000 units sold in 2018 to only 11,700 vehicles sold last year.

The pickup truck segment experienced a 21% downsizing in 2019 due to the challenging economic situation.

However, according to Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia Sdn Bhd (MMM) — the official distributor of Mitsubishi vehicles in Malaysia — its Mitsubishi Triton pickup truck managed to record a 2.4% YoY increase with 5,792 units sold, compared to the same period in 2018. It became the only brand that achieved growth and expanded its overall sales.

“The Mitsubishi Triton improved its market share by 3.8% to 16.5% from January to December 2019. After the introduction of the new Triton in early 2019, it contributed 71.2% of MMM’s overall business,” the company said in a statement yesterday.

Luxury Segment in Downtrend

The luxury segment also lost sales in 2019. Despite retaining its pole position in the premium luxury car segment in the country with an 1.8% market share, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) only delivered 10,020 cars last year, slightly lower than 13,500 vehicles the year before.

The BMW/MINI brands recorded about the same decline as MBM.

BMW/MINI delivered 10,400 cars in 2019 compared to 13,200 vehicles in 2018.

According to MAA data, Volkswagen sold 5,559 cars last year, down from 7,001 delivered in 2018, while Volvo managed to sell 1,883 cars compared to 1,413 in the year earlier.