Malaysian compact car maker posts record sales in 2013, warns of challenges

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysian compact car maker Perodua said Thursday its sales rose 3.7 per cent last year to a new record high but warned of challenges ahead as the sector is further liberalized.

Perodua sold 196,100 vehicles in 2013, giving it an estimated 30 per cent share of the domestic market and making it the country’s top-selling car brand for the eighth straight year.

Managing Director Aminar Rashid Salleh warned that competition is expected to intensify as inflation and living costs rise. He said a new automotive policy to be announced by the government next week will further liberalize the sector and attract new players.

Perodua, which is partly owned by Japan’s Daihatsu Motor Corp., is building a new 1.3 billion ringgit ($394 million) high-tech plant that is expected to begin operations by mid-2014, bolstering its competitiveness, he said.

“For 2014, we target a modest growth of 0.2 per cent to 197,000 units as our new plant begins operations and needs time to adjust,” he said.

Malaysia’s trade ministry is to unveil a new automotive policy on Monday that officials say will provide more incentives to make the country a regional hub for energy-efficient vehicles. No further details were immediately available.

Malaysia, once Southeast Asia’s top passenger car market, now trails behind Thailand and Indonesia. Investment and growth have been curbed in part by policies protecting domestic car companies from foreign competition.