The Malaysian automotive market is on the rebound. After it was forced to a halt by the initial Movement Control Order (MCO), relaxation to lockdown rules drove car sales up to 22,960 units in May compared to just 141 registrations the month before. This number should continue to rise, what with the government's announcement of a sales tax exemption at the start of June. And one of the biggest benefactors of this uptrend is Honda.
The Japanese carmaker got July off on the right foot when it confirmed that the 2020 Civic was comfortably leading the C-segment competition with a market share of 70 percent. As of June, 2,900 units of the facelifted saloon had been sold, with over 6,500 bookings confirmed - not bad at all for a car which was launched less than a month before the MCO was enforced. To date, the Civic is Honda Malaysia's third best-selling nameplate despite only ranking fifth in terms of affordability (behind the City, Jazz, BR-V and HR-V).
Similarly impressive is the initial response Honda Malaysia has received for the facelifted BR-V, which was launched mere days before the country entered the recovery phase of the MCO. Within a month from its launch date, the compact seven-seater secured 1,400 bookings - 85 percent of which were for the range-topping V model priced from RM93,420 after the tax break. Interestingly, 42 percent of all bookings Honda received in the central region during this period were for the 2020 BR-V. Over 32,600 units have been sold to date since the nameplate was first introduced here in 2017.
While the early signs are promising for Honda, it faces a tough challenge to hold on to its position as the best-selling non-national brand with Toyota leading the way by a handful of cars as of May 2020. National manufacturer Proton continues to outsell it too, having overtaken Honda as the second best-seller in the country overall in 2019. If anything, this scrimmage at the top of the automotive sales charts is an encouraging sign for the industry's health. And with new, mainstream favourites like the seventh-generation Honda City still on the horizon, the fight is far from over even though the first half of 2020 is now a thing of the past.
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