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Car makers try out new ways to push sales

TheStar Fri, Apr 17, 2020 09:50am - 2 months ago

Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president Datuk Aishah Ahmad(pic) said some model launches have already been postponed so far this year, adding however that this will not deter some players that have no choice but to continue offering new products.

PETALING JAYA: The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is forcing local automotive firms to revise their marketing strategies, with some either postponing their new model launches or resorting to unique methods to push sales and remain sustainable during this challenging environment.

Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president Datuk Aishah Ahmad said some model launches have already been postponed so far this year, adding however that this will not deter some players that have no choice but to continue offering new products.

“It is more likely that we will see more players postponing their launches. However, some will continue to launch their new models that are ready to be launched. Otherwise, their stocks will pile up, ” she told StarBiz.

To curb the Covid-19 pandemic, the government imposed the movement control order (MCO) on March 18. The MCO has been extended to April 28.

Proton Holdings Bhd said it is closely monitoring the situation.

“We are looking at various scenarios and possible outcomes.

“However our current focus is on safety and ensuring that we operate within stringent guidelines post MCO.

“We take this very seriously and stand to be guided by the government’s policy, ” said the company.

Proton’s sales dropped 41% year-on-year to 3,277 units in March, mainly due to all sales outlets being shut as a result of the MCO.

On a month-on-month basis, the national carmaker’s sales for March plunged 67% compared with February. Nevertheless, total sales for the first quarter of 2020 grew 20.4% year-on-year.

A spokesperson from a foreign car company who requested anonymity said most its car launches have been postponed for the time being.

“But if we are practising social distancing, we will find ways to launch to the public using social media platforms. Even after the MCO is lifted, we will still need to practice some form of social distancing for some time.

“Therefore, we might unveil our newest car via Youtube and limit the numbers of customers to our showrooms.

“We will also e-mail our product’s press releases and photos to the media, together with the Youtube link.”

In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, Subaru postponed its new Forestor GT, while Honda postponed its BR-V facelift viewing cum launch.A spokesperson from TC Subaru Sdn Bhd said the company planned to launch the all new Subaru Forester GT on March 18, but decided otherwise as the number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia began to rise.

“The safety and health of our employees, customers and business partners remain our utmost priority, hence we decided on March 16 to postpone the launch before the MCO was announced later that evening.

“It was a tough decision as we had already engaged food caterers, event planners and invitations had been sent out for the scheduled launch but we are thankful that they understood our decision.

“We are not sure when we will be launching the Forester GT yet but certainly, it will not be as soon as the MCO is lifted.”

UMW Toyota in a statement meanwhile said its new vehicle deliveries and service appointments are affected due to the MCO.

“We will ensure that these are expedited as soon as we are able to resume normal operations without further delay. In the meantime, we are taking this time to ensure that we are ready to respond quickly and effectively once the MCO is lifted in regards to other plans such as product launches, ” it said.

Meanwhile, Proton recently launched a WhatsApp chatbot for its X70 sports-utility vehicle to educate customers on details, promotions and features of the model.

Subaru meanwhile has introduced an online booking campaign that will run until the MCO is lifted to provide customers with better insights on its brand new XV and Forester models.

In view of the Covid-19 crisis, which has caused the MCO to be extended multiple times, MIDF Research recently slashed its 2020 sales forecast by 16.5% to 504,850 units, adding that automotive sector earnings are expected to fall 51% year-on-year.

The research house forecasts earnings of MBM RESOURCES BHD, BERMAZ AUTO BHD and UMW HOLDINGS BHD to fall by 31%, 22% and 44%, respectively, year-on-year, while TAN CHONG MOTOR HOLDINGS BHD is now expected to turn in a RM74mil loss compared with a RM47mil core profit in 2019.

“Sector forecast risk remains elevated, given the uncertain timeline required to contain the Covid-19 outbreak and its resultant impact on the domestic macro outlook, ” it said in a report earlier this week.

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