MAA: Worst may be over as car sales start to pick up

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PETALING JAYA: Car sales are likely to see lower or flat growth in the first quarter, largely due to tighter lending guidelines, Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) says.

But the good news was that the worst may be over as industry car sales seem to have picked up and is likely to see growth this year, it added.

“I think the industry is getting used to the condition and processes,” MAA president Datuk Aishah Ahmad said after the association’s annual general meeting (AGM) here yesterday.

She said banks may also have slightly eased hire-purchase loan requirements after the association’s meeting with Bank Negara Malaysia recently.

For the first two months of this year, car sales fell by over 10 per cent to 84,961 units, from 95,168 units in the same period last year.

The decline was partly driven by stricter loan processes due to the new lending guidelines, which took effect on January 1 this year.

Under the new guidelines, banks will now look at loan applicants’ net income, instead of just gross income, when approving their loans.

Aishah hopes the industry can continue to grow for the remaining part of the year and will achieve the association’s sales forecast of 615,000 units by end of this year.

“We remain hopeful … For now, we don’t see the need to revise our year-end target. It’s still too early.”

Meanwhile, Aishah said the much-anticipated National Automotive Policy (NAP) is expected to be announced soon.

“It is more or less completed,” she said.

The new policy is expected to help Malaysia be more competitive regionally as it is likely to have mechanisms to help boost car exports, as well as turn Malaysia into a regional hub for hybrid or electrical vehicles.

“So far, I think there are one or two players looking into this,” she added.

Business Times : nation

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