Many of the dealers are offering fantastic deals and discounts, and extended warranties, to boost sales especially with the Chinese New Year in mind.
Chinese New Year is usually the period when there is an upsurge in vehicle sales. With worries over a weakening ringgit pushing up car prices in the future, dealers are telling prospective buyers that now is the best time to get a new car.
Naza Corp Holdings Sdn Bhd group chief operating officer (automotive group) Datuk Samson Anand George acknowledged that stiff competition among car dealers would benefit buyers.
“Now would be the best and right time to buy a car. Those waiting to buy should not wait any longer.”
He said some 46 Naza car dealers took part in a “Chinese New Year Ang Pow Vaganza” over the weekend where rebates up to RM25,000 were offered to buyers, along with a buyback guarantee at 50% of the value. “Feedback from our dealers was good and we are considering holding a similar promotion soon.”
Proton Holdings Bhd said intense competition as well as the economic slowdown negatively affected customer confidence.
Its CEO, Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Kenali, said Proton’s market share went from 17.4% in January to 8.5% in August last year before bouncing back to 16% in October.
Additionally, Proton sales also suffered due to delayed launches of some of its models earlier last year, however new launches in Q2 and Q3 helped it regain momentum. But Fuaad believes these setbacks to be temporary.
“The impact of the weakening Ringgit could affect material costs as imported components will become expensive but I feel this is temporary and the Ringgit will strengthen once everything stabilises,” said Ahmad Fuaad.
One of the ways Proton plans to face the challenging times is to improve its after sales service to make it more convenient for Proton owners to care for their cars.
“Proton has put a lot of effort to improve our after sales service. Besides our service centres, we also introduced the MyProton app to allow more flexibility for our customers to arrange for a test drive or service their cars,” said Ahmad Fuaad.
Proton is giving "prosperity" rebates up to RM12,000 depending on the model under its promotion.
Among other promotions were Honda Malaysia’s “The Rooster Brings Goo-Gooo-Gooood Deal” with cash bonuses and ang pows worth up to RM12,000 for six models and Toyota Malaysia’s “The Drive Begins!” with cash rebates of between RM2,000 and RM10,000 for eight models.
Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia’s “Biggest Angpow of the Year” is offering a chance for buyers to win an ang pow packet of RM66,888, including cash back ranging from RM1,288 to RM388 for six models.
Other promotions include Tan Chong Group’s 60th Anniversary ang pow offer of between RM2,500 and RM6,500 for five Nissan models and Jeep’s “Unbeatable Deals” of savings between RM90,000 and RM150,000 for three models.
Ford Malaysia is giving easier vehicle ownership with up to to 17 months' free loan installments.
Subaru Malaysia’s “Have A Fulfilling 2017’ is offering RM8,888 ang pow and Isuzu is offering rebates of up to RM12,000.
Perodua is also in the fray, offering “Golden Prosperity Deals” with rebates of between RM2,188 and RM3,888 for four models.
BMW Malaysia “CNY@BMW” is offering financing interest rates from 1.68%, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia is offering 1.88% while Volvo Malaysia is offering 1.8% under its “Festlig Season” promotion.
Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president Datuk Aishah Ahmad said car sales were expected to increase by at least 5% as consumers take advantage of the offers. “It is a win-win situation as dealers get more sales while consumers get to choose the best deals.”
Car dealers, she said, were willing to accept lower profit margins as they had stocked up cars when the currency rates were more favourable. Aishah added that concerns over higher car prices later in the year would also drive some to buy a car now rather than risk paying more a few months down the road.
“With the ringgit weakening, there is no choice but to increase car prices once the existing stocks are depleted,” she said, adding that this decision would depend on the car companies’ business strategies.
MMA reported that new passenger car sales dropped 13.8% to 456,943 units between January and November last year from 530,173 units during the same period in 2015.
However, sales picked up by 2.5% in November last year. The upward trend continued in December and is likely to last through the Chinese New Year. MMA will release its 2016 annual car sales report after meeting on Jan 19.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj said that while competition among car dealers would benefit consumers, those wanting to buy a car must ensure they could afford it.
“If they are able to manage their finances well, now would be a good time to get a car. However, they need to see if they really need to buy a car as it is the largest expenditure next to buying a house,” he added.
Selvaraj said that failure to repay car loans was among the reasons why many were made bankrupt.