As usual, numbers gathered and published by the Malaysian Automotive Association are the best guesses with April's numbers slumping due to the chip shortage.
Like clockwork, their neatly tabulated digits were released for the month that elapsed, showing that the encouraging performance seen in March was not maintained. That said, the industry is faring better than it did in 2021, unsurprising as that is.
The month of April 2022 saw 49,815 passenger cars and 6,398 commercial vehicles sold (56,213 total) in contrast to, respectively, 65,137 and 7,320 units in March 2022 (73,222 total), taking the year-to-date sum to 215,965.
This was somewhat anticipated given the fact that, as a general practice, many car brands in Malaysia have laboured to aggressively push vehicle sales to meet their own targets for the financial year ending March 31st.
Do note that this does not mean there aren’t plenty of us out there excited to purchase a new car as bookings do not factor into the April data but only count upon vehicle delivery. This downtrend was expected to end given the typical Hari Raya surge, but clearly, that has not materialised.
Far from being a local issue, the ongoing global semiconductor shortage is the primary contributor to these middling numbers. Basically, despite strong consumer sentiment and demand, automakers are struggling to keep production numbers sufficiently high.
Add to this the rising global oil prices and geopolitical instabilities that have resulted in supply chain disruptions, delays in shipment and transport, more expensive raw materials, and higher production costs in general.
The good news is that those outside factors that previously held the automotive industry in such a stranglehold are gradually loosening their grip - the world has mostly put the COVID-19 pandemic behind it, for example.
However, seeing the positive impact in terms of production output to meet sales demand is something that will take place over the longer term. The MAA, therefore, anticipates vehicle sales in May 2022 to echo that of April.
There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.