The Malaysian Automotive Market

For the full up- to- date extended survey data, click here.

The Malaysian automotive market is certainly one of the more significant markets in Asia Pacific. It is estimated that over 21.25 million vehicles have been registered in Malaysia to date with every 4 in 10 Malaysians owning a vehicle. Uniquely, Malaysia is one of the few countries in Asia Pacific to have its own national car producers, further adding spice and flavour to this market. Malaysia is also one of the few right- hand- drive ( RHD ) markets in the world.

Here is a list of best selling cars in Malaysia. Credits to and the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

The Top 50 best selling cars in Malaysia for the year of 2011 ( Up until October 2011 )

Rank Car Total sold Photo
 1   Perodua Myvi  65,783  
 2   Proton Saga  63,615  
 3   Perodua Viva  49,636  
 4   Proton Persona  40,666  
 5   Perodua Alza  30,398  
 6   Toyota Vios  25,485  
 7   Proton Exora  18,165  
 8   Toyota Hilux  18,015  
 9   Nissan Grand Livina  10,620  
 10   Honda City  10,470  
 11   Proton Inspira  8,028  
 12   Mitsubishi Triton  6,974  
 13   Toyota Camry  6,679  
 14   Toyota Avanza  6,660  
 15   Honda Civic  6,121  
 16   Toyota Corolla Altis  5,178  
 17   Isuzu D-MAX  4,871  
 18   Naza ( Kia ) Forte  4,783  
 19   Honda Insight  4,085  
 20   Honda Accord  4,058  
 21   Honda CR-V  4,007  
 22   Suzuki Swift  3,962  
 23   Nissan Teana  3,876  
 24   Ford Fiesta  3,753  
 25   Toyota Innova  3,735  
 26   Proton Satria Neo  3,367  
 27   Nissan Navara  3,122  
 28   Hyundai Sonata  2,605  
 29   Nissan Sylphy  2,385  
 30   Chery Eastar  2,251  
 31   Proton Waja  2,159  
 32   Hyundai i10  2,115  
 33   Toyota Rush  1,988  
 34   Ford Ranger  1,900  
 35   Mercedes- Benz E- Class  1,857  
 36   Mercedes- Benz C- Class  1,823  
 37   Hyundai Tucson  1,757  
 38   Peugeot 308  1,732  
 39   BMW 5- Series F10  1,723  
 40   Toyota Prius  1,640  
 41   Volkswagen Golf TSI  1,633  
 42   Mazda 2  1,591  
 43   Naza ( Kia ) Citra  1,575  
 44   Mazda 3  1,555  
 45   Toyota Hiace  1,550  
 46   BMW 3- Series Sedan  1,513  
 47   Nissan Urvan  1,447  
 48   Toyota Fortuner  1,376  
 49   Volkswagen Polo TSI  1,298  
 50   Peugeot 207 Sedan  1,282  

In relation to the above statements, I decided to task myself with a project in hopes of learning more about the Malaysian automotive market. The details are as follows ;

Primary objective : To study the composition of vehicles by country of origin in the Malaysian automotive market in greater detail.

Featured survey locations :

 Ipoh, Perak



 Subang Jaya, Selangor



PLUS North- South Expressway, Malaysia



Timespan : 2nd – 3rd July 2011

Total distance travelled : +- 500 km

Technique and method used : Visual observation ; Vehicles are visually identified from the front passenger seat of a moving car.

  • The country of origin for each identified car is noted.
  • Popular makes and models are noted.
  • Other relevant points of interest are noted.

Procedure :

  1. Pencil and paper is prepared.
  2. Assume position at the front passenger seat of the car.
  3. Driver occupies the driver’s seat.
  4. Music is turned on to preserve sanity.
  5. Operation begins when the displacement of the car reaches a minimum of 1/2 kilometres from the starting point.
  6. Data is recorded.
  7. Operation ends when the velocity of the car reaches zero and I step out of the front passenger seat.
  8. Steps 1. to 7. were repeated during ;
  • The trip from my home in Subang Jaya to Ipoh ( PLUS Highway is used ).
  • My stay in Ipoh.
  • The return trip from Ipoh to my home in Subang Jaya ( PLUS Highway is used ).

Data and summary :

Total vehicles surveyed : 5,538

( not including buses, motorcycles, trucks and semis )


Total tallied : 2,654

Car makes : Proton, Perodua*, Naza**, Inokom**, Bufori

* Joint Ventures with Japanese carmakers.

** Rebadges Korean cars. 

Malaysian cars make up the biggest majority in the Malaysian automotive market. Every other car on the streets of Malaysia is either a Proton or a Perodua. Malaysian cars are generally functional and affordable people carriers. The very first Malaysian car, the Proton Saga was introduced into the market in 1985. Malaysian cars are protected by the government of Malaysia with the imposition of various taxes on non- Malaysian cars. Unfortunately, Malaysian cars are considered inferior to European and Japanese cars by a large majority of Malaysians. However, newer Malaysian cars such as the Proton Exora and Proton Satria Neo have proven that Malaysia has what it takes to become a major automotive player on the international stage in the near future. Popular Malaysian cars include the Proton Saga, Proton Persona, Perodua MyVi and Perodua Viva.


Total tallied : 2,090

Car makes : Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Mazda, Suzuki, Subaru, Isuzu, Infiniti, Lexus, Daihatsu, Acura, Hino, Mitsuoka, Scion

Japanese cars are the most popular foreign players on Malaysian soil. The 2 extremely popular models are the Honda City and Toyota Vios. Japanese cars are slightly behind in terms of sales when compared to Malaysian cars. This is due in part to the massive import taxes imposed on foreign cars in Malaysia. However, before the days of Proton and Perodua, Japanese cars ruled the streets of Malaysia. Japanese cars are well known and respected in Malaysia for their reliability and superb build quality. Japanese grey imports are also a common sight in the Malaysia. These cars are not sold officially in Malaysia but are shipped over from Japan. They are perfectly road- legal as both Japan and Malaysia are RHD markets. Examples include the Toyota Alphard and Toyota Estima.


Total tallied : 298

Car makes : Mercedes- Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Smart, Opel

German cars are the most popular European players in the Malaysian market. Nonetheless, German cars are far less abundant in comparison to Malaysian and Japanese cars in this market. German cars fall victim to the costly taxes which are imposed on cars with high engine displacement in Malaysia. Furthermore, German cars are considered a luxury and are out of reach for the majority of Malaysians. Like Japanese cars, German cars have gained the respect of Malaysians over the years. German cars are popular among the middle income and high income citizens of Malaysia. This explains why new German cars are popular in certain cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang but are a rare sight in the less developed parts of Malaysia. Popular cars include the BMW 5- Series, BMW 3- Series, Mercedes- Benz E- Class, Mercedes- Benz C- Class and Volkswagen Golf.

South Korea

Total tallied : 345

Car makes : Hyundai*, Kia*, Daewoo**, SsangYong

* Many Hyundai and Kia cars are rebadged by Naza and Inokom in Malaysia.

** Daewoo is sold under General Motors Chevrolet.

South Korean cars are relatively new players in the Malaysian market. They make the cheapest alternatives to Malaysian cars but are still nevertheless affected by the import taxes. The last decade has witnessed a significant gain in popularity of Korean cars in the Malaysian automotive market. It is believed that most new Korean cars offer more value for money than rival manufacturers. Although relatively few in numbers today, Korean cars are expected to gain in popularity over the next few years. Popular models include the Kia Forte, Hyundai Elantra and Hyundai Sonata.


Total tallied : 46

Car makes : Peugeot, Citroën, Renault, Bugatti

French cars make up one of the bigger European minorities in Malaysia. French cars are perceived as a luxury by many Malaysians, in similar fashion to German cars. However, French cars are still far less popular than German cars in this market due to the stiff competition from rivals and taxes. Popular cars include the Peugeot 207 and Peugeot 308. At least 3 known Bugatti Veyron hypercars have been sold in Malaysia to date, and one of them is owned by the Sultan of Johore.

United States

Total tallied : 43

Car makes : Chevrolet*, Ford**, Jeep, Hummer, Cadillac, Chrysler, Dodge

* Most Chevrolet cars in Malaysia are JV Daewoos.

** Ford cars in Malaysia are JV Mazdas.

American cars make up a small minority in the Malaysian market. They are present in the form of joint ventures (JV) between American, South Korean and Japanese brands under General Motors. Most American cars that are sold in Malaysia have low engine displacement and differ from American cars sold in the United States. American cars such as the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Chrysler 300C are rare because of various taxes imposed on cars with high engine displacement in this market. However, such American ‘ muscle ‘ cars are nevertheless present in the form of LHD grey imports.


Total tallied : 27

Car makes : Volvo, Saab, Koenigsegg

Swedish cars serve an established niche in Malaysia. They make an appealing alternative to potential German car owners. Swedish cars are highly respected in Malaysia but remain out of reach for the majority of Malaysians due to high import taxes and pricing. However, many older Volvos still cruise Malaysian roads today thanks to their everlasting build quality. New Volvos however are a rare sight outside Kuala Lumpur.


Total tallied : 9

Car makes : Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Fiat, Maserati, Lancia

Italian cars make up a small minority in the Malaysian market. Like Swedish cars, Italian cars in Malaysia are comprised mainly of older models. New models are few and far between. There are also supercars from the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini in the market. Italian supercars are the supercars of choice and are popular among the elite and upper- class citizens of Malaysia. They are however extremely expensive to own and buy thanks to the unbelievable taxes imposed on such extravagant works of art.

United Kingdom

Total tallied : 10

Car makes : Land Rover, Mini*, Mini Cooper, Jaguar, Rolls- Royce*, Lotus, Aston Martin, Bentley*, TVR, MG, Caterham, Vauxhall, Noble, Morgan

* Built and produced by Germans.

British cars also make up a small minority in Malaysia. This is mostly due to the fact that the United Kingdom is lacking in the people’s car area, an area which is dominated by German and Japanese brands. Only Land Rover, Mini, Jaguar, Bentley and Lotus enjoy limited success in the Malaysian automotive market.

Czech Republic

Total tallied : 1

Car make : Škoda

Czechoslovakian cars are among the rarest European players in the Malaysian market. Despite being in the market for some time, Škoda has largely been unsuccessful in attracting many customers from the middle and upper- class of Malaysia. This is unfortunate because  Škoda offers great cars with advanced German technology at reasonable prices. Factors include the lack of Malaysian awareness, high taxes and the dominance of Japanese and German cars in the market.


Total tallied : 14

Car makes : Chery, Brilliance, Great Wall, Hafei

Chinese cars are a recent entry in the Malaysian market. Chinese cars are infamous for being unsafe, reverse- engineered copies of other cars. As a result, Chinese auto makers choose not to sell their cars outside of their native market. Some of the few exceptions include the Chery Eastar Cross and Brilliance Jinbei, which enjoy limited success in the Malaysian market today.


Total tallied : 1

Car makes : Tata, Mahindra

Indian cars make up one of the smallest minorities in the Malaysian market. The most popular Indian car in Malaysia is the Mahindra Scorpio. Very little is known about the sales of Indian cars in this market. It is however, well known that many old trucks from Tata are still in use on Malaysian roads today.

Other countries which have/ had their cars sold in Malaysia.


Car make : Seat

Spanish grey- imports can be found in Malaysia. However, they are extremely rare and are not successful in the Malaysian market.


Car make : Holden

Australian cars once cruised the streets of Malaysia. Holden attempted to sell their cars in Malaysia in the past but withdrew due to poor sales.

Other points of interest

5 recorded cars had Singaporean registration plates; 2 Japanese cars, 2 Korean cars and 1 Malaysian car.


1 recorded car had a Thai registration plate; a Japanese car.



We have come to our conclusion. We now know the rough composition of vehicles by country of origin in the Malaysian automotive market in greater detail. However, please bear in mind that this is merely an observation/ survey and the actual data and statistics will undoubtedly vary. This is just the tip of the iceberg on a whole different field altogether. There is simply far more to the Malaysian automotive market than one may be able to sum up in words. What about your country’s/ city’s automotive market ? I challenge you to carry out this project with a friend or parent who is able to drive you around your country/ city. I suggest you do a little research on your country’s/ city’s market to gain a better understanding first and foremost. Also, one must be familiar with car models and brands to be able to carry out the project with maximum efficiency. Rest assured that you will gain priceless knowledge in the process. Good luck and thanks for reading this factual article. – Aero


  • Google
  • Wikipedia
  • Various sites for images and photos
  • My dad for being an awesome driver



3 responses to “The Malaysian Automotive Market

  1. Good page!

    I always wonder why the meevi (Myvi, pronounced as that by some British people including Jeremy Clarkson) is too much in Malaysian roads? Basically it’s Japanese only it was badge manufactured for the Malaysian market.. Feeling like to go to Germany to get the rare BMW M1 :/

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