• Madani Sahari

Is now the best time to consider buying a car?

IT was recently announced that Malaysia has maintained a steady growth rate in the second quarter of this year, with gross domestic product (GDP) at 4.9 per cent.

Although there was slight reduction in the second quarter GDP figure as compared with the first quarter (5.6 per cent), economists are confident that the nation may attain a GDP of between four and six per cent this year.

It is comforting to note that despite the current global economic turmoil and the ringgit’s devaluation, the nation’s GDP remains positive.

In contrast, when compared with the 1998 currency crisis, where Malaysia’s economy was badly affected, GDP growth slipped from 7.7 per cent in 1997 to -6.7 per cent in 1998.

The ringgit weakened from RM2.50 against the US Dollar to a lowest value of RM4.88 on January 7 1998.

Similarly, the 2008 financial crisis caused by the collapse in export demand to the US, has slowed down Malaysia’s GDP from 4.6 per cent in 2008 to -1.7 per cent in 2009, but the local economy recovered before long to post a GDP of 7.2 per cent in 2010.

Despite the uptick in the GDP figure noted earlier, the administration is not resting on its laurels in the face of the current global economic downturn and the depreciation of the local currency.

The recent formation of the National Export Council (NEC) is one proactive initiatives to help steer the nation towards better economic performance under current global and domestic economic conditions.

The automotive sector is one of several economic sectors to be promoted under the NEC.

The platform is expected to assist in the enhancement of automotive related activities in export requirements such as testing, market access and business matching among industry players.

The National Automotive Policy, NAP 2014, has prescribed various assistance for automotive vendors in strengthening their production activities and to exploit export potentials for their output.

It is during these trying times that is best for the vendor community to take a step back to re-evaluate their respective business plan and to reinvigorate their plans towards export diversification.

Focus on enhancing the vendors’ competitiveness remains the prime objective of the NAP and it is best with the current slowdown that industry players are to focus on extending more activities towards competitive enhancement within their respective organisation.

Competitive enhancement is a continuous effort and is generally "easier" to achieve during difficult times as people are more focussed on their job performances.

They are more dedicated towards their work responsibilities so as to remain relevant to the company given the economic slowdown and hence possible job redundancies.

Psychological factors are at play in the sales and purchase of vehicles between consumers and automotive manufacturers during this trying time.

On one hand, consumers tend to be pessimistic towards vehicle purchase for fear that the economic uncertainty may affect their purchasing power and house hold expenditure.

On the other hand, vehicle manufactures are responding to this consumer sentiment with highly geared vehicle sales promotions and plentiful of interesting gadgetry and discounted offers.

This is the best time either for the first-time car buyers or replacement car purchasers to consider the benefit the promotions have to offer.

Higher safety standards, good comfort and many security features are the forefront of those offers which can be excellent bargains.

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