MALAYSIA is perceived to be one of the costlier countries in the region when it comes to vehicle prices. But industry observers believe that this is compensated by the fact that the country’s fuel prices are heavily subsidised, and that it also enjoys the lowest interest rates in South-East Asia.
“One should not compare vehicle cost of ownership in the region purely based on the price of the car alone,” says Malaysian Automotive Association president Datuk Aishah Ahmad.
According to data by the Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI), the average interest rate in Malaysia for a loan tenure of between 60 months and 108 months is between 2.5% and 3.6% - which is the lowest in Asean.
Interest rates in Vietnam is the highest, which has a flat rate of 16% per annum for loans that range between 12 months and 60 months.
“Given the fact that Malaysia’s interest rates are the lowest in the region, as well as the fact that fuel prices are subsidised, the total cost of vehicle ownership is one of the lowest in Asean,” says MAI chief executive officer Madani Sahari. The cost of interest rates used in MAI’s calculations is over 5 years.
The MAI is the think-tank for the Malaysian automotive industry.
Madani notes also that the price of subsidised RON 95 in Malaysia was one of the lowest in the region at RM1.90 per litre. Comparatively, the cost for the fuel in Thailand is RM3.80 per litre, Indonesia (RM3.35 per litre), Singapore (RM5.10 per litre), Vietnam (RM3.60 per litre) and the Philippines (RM3.20 per litre).
“In terms of road tax, we are also quite competitive in Asean. Malaysia is still cheaper compared with countries such as Thailand and Indonesia and comparative to Vietnam and the Philippines,” he says.
Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh says Malaysians are blessed to have their fuel subsidised.
“We have low fuel prices and interest rates. All of these factors have contributed to Malaysia’s low cost of vehicle ownership.”
Madani points out that over a five-year period, the average road tax and insurance in Malaysia was among the lowest in the region, costing RM1,990 and RM15,310 respectively.
The five-year cost of road tax and insurance in Singapore was the highest at RM13,779 and RM39,806 respectively, compared with Indonesia (RM9,186 and RM22,965), Thailand (RM2,297 and RM33,682) and the Philippines (RM1,531 and RM14,238).
When comparing vehicle prices, especially those of popular international marques such as Toyota, Honda and BMW, Madani points out that prices in Malaysia were still lower compared with countries such as Singapore and Vietnam.
According to data from the MAI, a 1.5-litre Toyota Vios (as at September 2012) costs RM87,313 in Malaysia but costs RM88,456 and RM303,136 in Vietnam and Singapore respectively. The Vios is cheapest in the Philippines at RM60,271.
A brand new 1.5-litre Honda City meanwhile retails for RM88,443 locally and costs RM106,090 and RM295,800 in Vietnam and Singapore respectively and lowest in the Philippines at RM61,472.
The BMW 3 series, a popular premium model that is represented in most Asean countries, costs RM238,800 in Malaysia. It costs RM248,200 and RM541,200 respectively in Vietnam and Singapore. It costs the least in Indonesia, retailing at RM191,900.
However, when taking into account the vehicles’ selling price, down payment and loan repayment (including interest rates), road tax and insurance, as well as the fuel prices of the different countries, the total vehicle cost of ownership for a 1.5-litre Toyota Vios is RM130,382, which is the second lowest in the region after Philippines, where the total vehicle cost of ownership is RM128,933.
Total vehicle cost of ownership for the Toyota Camry (2.5-litre) in Malaysia is also second lowest in the region at RM243,182. The total vehicle cost of ownership for the Toyota Altis (1.8-litre) in Malaysia is however the cheapest in the region at RM163,973.
After the Philippines, Malaysia also boasts the second lowest total vehicle cost of ownership for the Honda City (1.5-litre), Civic (1.8-litre) and Accord (2.4-litre) models in the region. Malaysia also has the lowest total vehicle cost of ownership for the BMW 3 series.