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(File pix) Malaysia’s automotive sales have hit their lowest level in six years to 580,124 units in 2016. Pix by Muhammad Asyraf Sawal

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s automotive sales have hit their lowest level in six years to 580,124 units in 2016.

However, the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) expects sales to grow slightly to 590,000 units in 2017.

"The decline is due to many factors, such as the stringent hire purchase loan approval by Bank Negara, the economic slowdown, lower consumer spending and cautious business sentiment," said MAA president Datuk Aishah Ahmad in a press conference on Malaysia's 2016 automotive sales.

Automotive sales for 2016 barely passed the year’s target of 580,000 units. The last time the total industry volume (TIV) was below the 600,000 mark was in 2009 at 536,906 units.

Aishah said that the automotive market for 2017 remains challenging due to global economic uncertainties, the depreciation of the ringgit and stringent approvals on hire purchase loans.

"We are optimistic of achieving our target (thanks to) the introduction of new models, the latest additional specifications, design styles and (all) at very competitive prices," she added.

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