Initial Quality in Malaysia Advances for Fourth Straight Year

Malaysia, PenangFor a fourth consecutive year, overall new-vehicle initial quality in Malaysia improves significantly, according to the 2013 Malaysia Initial Quality Study (IQS), based on responses from more than 3,100 new-vehicle buyers during the first two to six months of ownership.*

The 2013 Malaysia IQS findings are encouraging because the automotive market in Malaysia is becoming increasingly competitive with a rising number of new models, which makes it essential for brands to produce high-quality cars and trucks. Continue reading ›

Hybrid Vehicles Face a Bumpy Road in Southeast Asia

bangkok-thailandThree years ago, Toyota Group began producing and selling the first hybrid model—a Camry—in Thailand. Since then, sales of hybrid cars in that country have grown significantly. In 2012, hybrid sales in Thailand were 19,000 units. Sales of hybrids in Thailand have been growing at an average rate of almost 60% during this time frame. Now, there are at least four hybrid models being sold in the Thai market, and this year hybrid vehicle sales are projected to surpass 20,000 units.

Despite strong and stable growth, a volume of 20,000 unit sales is miniscule in a country where projected sales volume in 2013 is 1.2 million light vehicles. The hybrid vehicle sector accounts for only a 1% share of the entire domestic market (3% of passenger-vehicle volumes). This is very small compared with an 18% hybrid share in Japan, the home market of the key OEMs that have sales operations in Thailand. To be fair, the ratio of hybrid vehicles in Malaysia, a key competitor for regional production of hybrids, amounted to just 2%, or sales of 15,000 units, last year.

Currently, we expect the market share of hybrid cars in Thailand to be under 5% for the foreseeable future. Our projection for hybrid sales in 2020 is slightly over 30,000. In comparison, hybrid vehicle sales in Malaysia are likely to nearly reach 50,000 units by 2020, and will account for almost 10% of that country’s passenger-vehicle market. Continue reading ›

New-Vehicle Sales Satisfaction in Malaysia Declines; Nissan Ranks Highest

Mohit Arora

Although new-vehicle owner satisfaction with service at authorized service centers in Malaysia—especially for national makes Perodua and Proton—increases 22 points (on a 1,000-point scale) from 2011, satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales and delivery process declines by 18 points from a year ago, to an average of 781, according to our 2012 Malaysia Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study.

Highlights of findings from the 2012 Malaysia SSI Study, which is based on responses from 2,451 new-vehicle owners who made their purchase between August 2011 and April 2012, are as follows:

• Fewer new-vehicle owners are highly satisfied with their purchase experience in 2012, in spite of an increase in the implementation of sales standards across the industry.

• Satisfaction is down especially for first-time new-vehicle owners, and these owners account for a majority of new-vehicle owners. Continue reading ›

Satisfaction with Vehicle Service in Malaysia Improves, Particularly at National Make Service Centers

Mohit Arora

New-vehicle owner satisfaction in Malaysia with service at authorized service centers for the country’s national makes—Perodua and Proton—increases from 2011 with implementation of higher service standards that include explanations of service work and physical inspection of the vehicle before and after service, according to our 2012 Malaysia Customer Service Index (CSI) Study.

Although gaps in service satisfaction still remain, these gaps are narrowing between national and non-national makes in Malaysia. While national makes still perform below industry average, there are remarkable improvements in performance due to a more systematic implementation of activities that have a high impact on customer satisfaction. Overall customer satisfaction in the 2012 Malaysia CSI Study averages 740 index points (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2012, an improvement of 22 points from 2011. Continue reading ›

Chevrolet Pushes Sales in Southeast Asia with Trailblazer, Sonic

General Motors’ Chevrolet brand has begun a major push to increase its small 2% market share in Southeast Asia with the introduction of the Trailblazer midsize SUV and Sonic sub-compact. Both models went on sale in Thailand in July, and will also be subsequently released across the region.

The Trailblazer, priced from US $34,000-$47,000, is offered with two engine choices: a 2.5-liter engine with output of 150 hp and a 2.8-liter engine producing 180 hp. Both versions are mated to a 6‐speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. The Trailblazer will be facing stronger competition from models including the Toyota Fortuner and Isuzu Mu‐7. Continue reading ›

Revving Up Production in US Market and Abroad

Several automakers announced during press previews at the L.A. Auto Show more aggressive plans to increase production at US assembly plants, partly to offset currency fluctuations and also to meet demand in the US and overseas. Highlights include:

• Volkswagen Group, which has a relatively new plant in Chattanooga, TN, where it builds the Passat that was named “Motor Trend Car of the Year,” is investing in the US market, according to Jonathan Browning, CEO and president, because VW expects to sell more than 300,000 vehicles in the United States this year. VW’s new CC, which will go on sale in the first quarter of 2012, is expected to be a “Top Safety Pick” with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Browning said. Continue reading ›

Honda Faces Major Challenge in Southeast Asia


Ammar Master

Honda has had a tough sales year in Southeast Asia, as the automaker’s total sales in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have shrunk by 18%—to 110,000 units—in the first seven months of this year vs. the same period in 2010. Yet, Honda did not start the year poorly. Sales in the first quarter were up 19% year-over-year, to about 60,000 units, partly boosted by the facelift of the Accord and minor changes to the Jazz (sold as the Fit in the United States). The Japanese automaker was betting big on the launch of the Brio, its first eco car model, to further drive up sales volumes in Thailand.

Then, disaster struck Japan in March with the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami. As a result, Honda was forced to slash output by as much as 50% in the second quarter, as key vehicle components from Japan dried up. The lack of supply at dealerships led to a sales downfall in subsequent months. Continue reading ›

Malaysia’s Perodua vs. Proton: The Battle Is On

Ammar Master

The numbers game between Malaysia’s two national carmakers, Perodua and Proton, is closer than ever. Between January and May of this year, Proton surpassed Perodua to become Malaysia’s highest-selling brand. Its sales were about 2,000 units ahead of Perodua. In the same period a year ago, Proton was behind Perodua by 13,000 units. Notably, Proton’s more aggressive launch of new models and variants during the past year has helped it achieve higher volumes than Perodua. Proton upgraded its Exora MPV, powered by the 1.6-liter Campro CPS engine, in mid-July 2010. The automaker followed this with the new Inspira compact model in October, and the Saga Facelift in December.

Newer models generate buyer interest and create excitement in the market. Therefore, Proton’s refreshed models, especially the Saga FL, has been well received in the market. The Saga, in fact, was Proton’s best-selling model through May. The Inspira too appears to be gaining traction. Moreover, Proton made available the Saga with its 1.6-liter Campro IAFM engine beginning in late May. This is not a new model since it is already sold as a taxi, but it is now being offered to retail customers. In addition, Proton plans to introduce its new turbocharged 1.6-liter Campro engine by the third quarter of this year, featuring it first in the Exora MPV and subsequently the Satria Neo. The new engine is also likely to power future Proton models. Continue reading ›

Toyota Plans New Small Car for ASEAN Market

Ammar Master

Toyota is planning to build a new small car that we call the EFC in our forecast  for the ASEAN member countries in Southeast Asia. We believe this new model will go into production in 2013, and will first be sold in Thailand and Indonesia, followed by Malaysia a year later.

The EFC will be built on the same platform as the Etios sub-compact that is currently on sale in India. Like the Etios, the focus for the EFC is likely to be on keeping costs in check, while maintaining high quality standards and meeting specific fuel-efficiency requirements. Continue reading ›

New Volkswagen Partnership to Open More Asian Auto Markets

The Volkswagen Group, one of the world’s largest automakers and with core markets in Germany and China, finalized an agreement with Malaysia’s DRB-Hicom in December 2010 for the CKD assembly of VW models at DRB-Hicom’s Pekan [Malaysia] plant. The two partners plan to invest 982.5 million Malaysian Ringgits, or about US $320 million, mostly . . . Continue Reading New Volkswagen Partnership to Open More Asian Auto Markets