Malaysians concerned about taking public transportation amidst COVID-19

Malaysians  are concerned about taking  public transportation in the face of the COVID-19 situation, preferring to self-drive as a  safety measure. The results of a recent survey by a tech-driven automotive content hub, WapCar also found that respondents are prudently opting to reduce spending and lower their budget for a car.

The findings reflect the car sales trend as well as the spike in demand for used cars in Malaysia in June. The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) recently  reported  June 2020’s sales volume was 5% higher than June 2019’s. At the same time, the Federation of Motor and Credit Companies Association of Malaysia (FMCCAM) noted a 100% year-on- year growth in June’s used car sales. MAA expects the sales volume in July 2020 to be better, trending towards cheaper and fuel  efficient  cars.  The  government’s  exemption  on sales tax until the end of the year will also help to spur demand.

Public in catch-22 situation
The findings showed 57.9% of respondents will not take public transportation while 32.7% will, even though they are concerned about health safety in light of COVID-19.

Of the 318 respondents surveyed, many (55.4%) say they are reconsidering their plans to buy a car in the next 6 months.

It appears that while Malaysians are concerned about their safety, they will continue to take public transportation out of prudence or because they have no other alternative.

More bang, less buck - affordable car models appear to be the winners
The survey supported MAA’s announcement that car sales will trend towards cheaper and fuel efficient vehicles. Almost 47% of the respondents are only willing to spend less than RM100,000 for their next car purchase.

Price and discounts will influence the current car purchase decision with 83% of respondents noting these as the most important factors during the pandemic. The government’s sales-tax exemption measure to boost the automotive industry appears to be a step in  the  right direction, aligned with the needs of the people.

Specifications and performance (74%) are also critical as with durability and fuel economy (63%). WapCar’s data from 9 March to 30 June 2020 which showed an increase in search for car models that are practical and well-priced is evidence that people are looking for more bang, less buck in their next car. Among the top 10 most searched cars, nine have starting prices below RM100,000. These include models such as Honda City, Nissan Almera, Perodua Bezza, Perodua Axia, Perodua Aruz, Proton X50, Proton X70, Proton Saga, and Toyota Vios.

Car brands need to up their customer service game
The survey showed 70% of the respondents are concerned about the economic situation and this affected their decision in buying new cars. Moreover, almost 50% of them are extra cautious on their spending and prefer to save for emergencies instead of purchasing big ticket items such as cars in the next six months.

In the face of stiff competition from cheap used cars, car brands have to up their customer service game in order to entice people to purchase new cars.

The majority of respondents like the idea of convenience and not being required to  be physically present in a car showroom. In addition to online showroom (42.1%) and convenient online financial solution (55%), more than 59% of the respondents cited door-to- door test drive and delivery as a service that they are expecting from car brands.

The advancement of technology and the current situation of physical distancing are driving interest in online shopping for cars, aided by Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) for virtual test drive and livestreaming. The result is timely for WapCar as the hub recently.