Supply problems caused by the tsunami won't affect Japanese car demand
Only a small minority of impatient buyers may switch to S. Korean models
PETALING JAYA: South Korean passenger car marques in Malaysia will not benefit significantly from the expected Japanese vehicle delivery shortfalls due to supply constraints of car parts following the earthquake in Japan, according to automotive analysts contacted by StarBiz.
An analyst with CIMB Research said a small minority of impatient customers might switch to rival South Korean models during the expected shortfall in Japanese vehicle deliveries in the second and third quarters of 2011.
“The perception of South Korean cars is gradually changing in Malaysia, with sleek new models such as the Hyundai Sonata sedan and Tucson sport-utility vehicle.”
However, the analyst added that the vast majority of car buyers would stick with their choices.
“A car purchase is a huge investment. Those who really want Japanese cars would not mind waiting a few extra weeks or months,” said the analyst.
Another automotive analyst with a local research firm agreed, and pointed out that the strong resale value of Japanese models was a crucial factor for many car buyers.
“The longer waiting period for Japanese cars is not a structural change for consumers,” she said.
Frost & Sullivan partner Kavan Mukhtyar pointed out that besides South Korean marques, national carmaker Proton Holdings Bhd might benefit marginally from impatient car buyers.
“However, the disruption in the auto part supplies from Japan is not expected to be a long-term issue, and any gains made by the South Korean marques and Proton will not be dramatic,” he said.
Proton is also facing supply issues for components made in Japan for its Inspira sedan.
Kavan does not expect a major shift in car buying preferences to South Korean marques in Malaysia in the short term.
“The growing popularity and sales of Hyundai and Kia cars is a global phenomenon. However, in Malaysia, the market share for South Korean marques is small.”
Last year, Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors and Naza Kia Malaysia sold 9,183 and 10,330 passenger vehicles respectively, and had a combined 3.2% market share.
In the first quarter of 2011, Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors recorded sales of 2,964 units (a year-on-year increase of 29% when compared with 2,302 units sold in the same period last year).
The top-selling Hyundai model was the Sonata (1,000 units), followed by the i10 compact car (726 units) and Tucson (619 units).
While April 2011 sales figures for Hyundai were not available yet, industry observers indicated it was higher compared with the 643 units sold in April last year.
The company's sales is also expected to be boosted this year with the upcoming launches of the new Hyundai Elantra C-segment sedan and a more competitively priced variant of the seven-seater, 2.4-litre Santa Fe sport-utility vehicle.
Naza Kia Malaysia chief operating officer Datuk Hafiz Syed Abu Bakar said the company's sales volume in the first four months of 2011 was on par with the same period last year.
In the first quarter, the company's top selling model was the Forte (1,266 units), followed by the Citra (366 units) and Picanto (366 units).
“Our sales figure for April 2011 is estimated at 1,150 units, which is marginally higher than the 1,139 units recorded in April last year,” said Hafiz.
He said the company's vehicle bookings were higher in April 2011 compared with April last year owing to the hype from marketing initiatives for the new Sorento launched in December 2010 and the new Forte Koup and enhanced Forte sedan, both of which were introduced in March this year.
Hafiz said any shift in consumer preference from Japanese to South Korean marques can be attributed to the recent “Korean wave” sweeping the global car market.
Last year, Kia Motors Corp recorded an all-time high global sales volume of 2.1 million vehicles, which was a year-on-year growth of 26.5%.
“Some 400,000 Forte units were shipped out of South Korea last year. Also, the overwhelming global demand for Kia cars has taken a toll on vehicle supplies. In fact, Kia Motors will begin producing the new Optima at its plant in Georgia, United States, to meet global demand for this popular sedan,” said Hafiz, who is aiming for sales of 18,000 units in the country this year.
Meanwhile, industry observers indicated that UMW Toyota Motor had a higher sales volume last month (compared with the 7,303 units sold in April last year).
Honda Malaysia recorded sales of 3,603 units last month (a year-on-year dip of 9.5% compared with 3,980 units sold in April last year).
Local Nissan vehicle distributor Edaran Tan Chong Motor has not compiled its April sales figures, although it is expected that the Nissan Grand Livina multi-purpose vehicle will be the company's top seller for the first four months of this year, followed by the Teana and Sylphy sedans, and Navara pick-up truck.
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