Thailand loses to Malaysia as ASEAN's second-biggest auto market

THURSDAY, MAY 16, 2024

Thailand has been overtaken by its southern neighbour Malaysia, which is now Southeast Asia's second-largest auto market after Indonesia, Nikkei Asia reported on Wednesday.

The change in ranking is a major shift in a region that has become a key battleground for Asian automakers, the Japanese-based online news magazine noted.

The report said that Malaysia's sales figures, which had come in third for a long time, topped Thailand's for three consecutive quarters through January-March 2024.

Thailand loses to Malaysia as ASEAN\'s second-biggest auto market

According to the Malaysian Automotive Association, auto sales increased 5% in the first quarter from a year earlier to 202,245 vehicles. This followed an 11% increase in 2023 to a record 799,731 vehicles.

The jump was reportedly a result of sales tax exemptions for domestically produced vehicles, part of the government's economic stimulus package, resulting in increasing sales of national car brands Perodua and Proton, which held about 60% of the market share.

Meanwhile, sales in Thailand have been in a slump, with a significant drop of 25% in the first quarter from a year earlier.

Thailand loses to Malaysia as ASEAN\'s second-biggest auto market

Nikkei Asia said Thailand's monthly auto sales have declined year-on-year starting last June due to increasing NPL in auto loans and general stagnant consumption. However, the share of electric vehicles has been growing thanks to the entry of Chinese automakers.

The report said Indonesia, too, is experiencing low momentum. Auto sales in the first quarter fell 24% year on year as interest rates rose, leading consumers to hold back on purchases.

Vietnam also reported falling auto sales by 16% year on year in the first quarter due to slumping exports and other factors.

Meanwhile, figures in the Philippines increased 13% in the first quarter, the highest among the five countries, after inflation eased to around 4% in late 2023 and consumer spending remained strong.