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Kuala Lumpur (VNA) – Malaysia’s vehicle sales fell 20.5 percent in the first month of 2016 compared with December 2015’s figure, according to the country’s Automotive Association (MAA).

The MAA’s latest report shows the number of cars sold in January reached 44,591 units, down 11.9 percent compared with 50,602 units in the same period last year.

The Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Berhad (MIDF) explained that the reduction was due to local consumers already having purchased vehicles in the last quarter of 2015 before the price rose in January 2016.

The agency also said the drop in the number of vehicles sold reflected consumers’ sentiments after Toyota and Honda adjusted their automobile prices.

The MIDF predicts vehicle sales to fall further in February due to the prolonged holiday and increase in the price of cars from Proton, the country’s second largest automobile manufacturer.

Car makers expect the situation to improve in the second half of the year when several car models such as Toyota’s Alphard, Vellfire, and Hilux, as well as Mazda’s CZ-5 CKD are introduced

The MAA forecasts that car sales in 2016 will hit 650,000 units, a year-on-year reduction of 2.5 percent. This would be first drop in six years due to falling consumer demand, weaker domestic currency and tighter lending requirements.

Plummeting oil prices and slowdowns in the global and Chinese economies are expected to contribute to the reduction.

Malaysia’s automotive industry has been growing for six consecutive years, peaking at a new all-time total industry volume (TIV) high of 666,674 units last year.

For 2017, the MAA expects sales to rise 3 percent over this year to 669,500 units.-VNA