ASEAN new car sales totalled 2.79 million vehicles in 2021 – 14% increase is the region's first in three years – paultan.org
According to a report by Nikkei, new car sales in ASEAN’s six major economies totalled 2.79 million vehicles in 2021, up 14% from 2020. This marks the first increase in three years, with a significant spike in demand in Indonesia as well as the easing of Covid-19 movement restrictions in some countries in the second half of 2021 being key factors.
Even so, the combined total recorded from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam is still around 20% lower than in 2019, prior to the pandemic. The limited rebound is attributed to pandemic restrictions that still exist in the region, along with production issues arising from a shortage of semiconductor chips. For 2022, market analysts are pessimistic that car sales will bounce back higher, largely due to the rising number of omicron variant infections.
Of the 2.79 million vehicles sold last year, Indonesia contributed 887,202 vehicles to become the biggest market for new cars among the six ASEAN countries, the first time it has done so in two years. Indonesia introduced tax breaks to promote demand last March which were extended until the end of 2021, but these have been extended again until the end of March 2022.
The country’s Association of Indonesian Automotive Industries expects new car sales this year to hit 900,000 vehicles, which is lower than the pre-pandemic level of 1.03 million vehicles in 2019. Last year, Toyota maintained its position as the best-selling brand, followed by Daihatsu and Mitsubishi in second and third respectively.
Meanwhile, second-place Thailand saw new car sales decline for the third consecutive year to 759,119 vehicles (-4%). During the first half of 2021, sales rose compared to the same period in 2020, but the momentum was neutered due to lockdowns being imposed and production setbacks due to supply chain issues.
Toyota, the market leader in Thailand, is expecting the local industry to record 860,000 new vehicle sales in 2022 – including those supplied by other brands. That figure is well below the level of one million vehicles that Thailand saw in 2019, and Toyota doesn’t expect sales to cross that mark until after 2023 due to consumers’ weakened purchasing power brought on by the pandemic.
Malaysia also saw new car sales decline by 4% last year to 508,911 vehicles, with a nationwide lockdown introduced in June heavily impacting sales activity. The Malaysian Automotive Association forecasts 600,000 vehicles for 2022, which is higher than its 2021 figure, but not that far off from what was recorded in 2019.
Vietnam (300,000 vehicles) and the Philippines (280,000 vehicles) were in the same boat as Indonesia, notching up increases of 3% and 16% respectively. Vietnam has been Southeast Asia’s fourth-largest new car market for two years running (2021 and 2020), a position that was previously held by the Philippines.
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