KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysian new vehicle sales were flat in January versus the same time a year ago, posting an increase of just 0.13 percent to 39,696 units, the Malaysian Automotive Industry said on Wednesday.
Passenger car sales slipped to 32,403 over the same period, down 2.3 percent, a drop offset by the 13 percent rise to 7,293 units in commercial vehicle sales, it said in a statement.
In 2002, Malaysian new vehicle sales jumped nearly 10 percent to a record 434,954 units driven by low interest rates and the launch of new models, but growth is seen slowing this year as buyers wait for lower prices.
A possible Iraq war, falling used car prices and hopes of cheaper new cars have cooled the appetite of consumers, who have an eye on plans for the industry's delayed entry into the Association of South East Asian Nations Free Trade Area in 2005.
Malaysia imposes duties of up to 300 percent on car imports and has irked its ASEAN partners by delaying the lifting of barriers, arguing domestic car makers like Proton need more time to adapt.