NEW vehicles sales should bounce from a 2 per cent drop to 536,905 units in 2009 to top 550,000 units this year, said a senior executive of Nissan's local distributor.
Nissan's share of the total industry volume (TIV) for 2010 is expected to improve to 5.6 per cent from 5.5 per cent last year, Edaran Tan Chong Motor Sdn Bhd (ETCM) executive director Datuk Dr Ang Bon Beng said.
"This year, we forecast the TIV to be between 545,000 units and 550,000 units, and MPV (multi-purpose vehicles) will be the growth segment," Ang told a media gathering on Wednesday.
ETCM's expected TIV matches the forecast by the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) of a 2.43 per cent growth to 550,000 units, although unofficially the latter thinks sales this year may hit a new high to break the previous record of 552,316 units in 2005.
Last year, ETCM and Nissan bucked the industry sales pattern amid what Ang described as a "challenging 2009". It sold five per cent more vehicles to 29,683 units from 28,313 units in 2008.
"2009 was a very challenging year to ETCM due to the effects of economic downturn and aggravated by the fact that we did not launch any new CKD (completely knocked down) models.
"Nevertheless, ETCM is one of the few auto players which have performed reasonably well under such difficult conditions," he said.
Ang - who was recently named Automotive Man of the Year at The New Straits Times/Maybank Car of the Year 2009 award - said ETCM expects to maintain the current momentum with a few core models and some proven models. It also plans to introduce two new models this year.
Regionally, the company will accelerate its presence in Indochina. It has set up a trading and marketing subsidiary in Cambodia to deal with Nissan vehicles there, and is taking steps to penetrate other markets, in particular Laos.
Ang said the 2009 performance, was led by a healthy demand and market acceptance of the Nissan Grand Livina.
Based on the MAA figures, the Grand Livina has officially taken over as 2009's best-seller in the non-national three-row MPV (petrol) segment with a market share of 38 per cent.
The Nissan Urvan, meanwhile, emerged as the best-seller in the window van (diesel) segment for 2009, with 30 per cent of the market - BUSINESS TIMES