PETALING JAYA: The one percentage point increase
in car financing rates may only have minimal impact on vehicle
sales in the longer term, but will likely boost sales of national
cars at the expense of non-national vehicles, car dealers said.
But the hike in car loan rates should not have
happened in these challenging times, they said.
Banks informed car dealers last Friday that hire-purchase
interest rates would be increased by one percentage point effective
Car dealers contacted by StarBiz said that they
just could not understand the rationale for the increase in interest
rates for car loans. They said the current lower interest rates
were supposed to stimulate consumer spending, but the increase
in car loan rates would be a burden to consumers during these tough
“The one percentage point increase in the
interest rate will discourage consumers from buying used cars,
especially the non-national cars, because they have to pay more
to get a second-hand car.
“Thus, it would definitely affect our sales,” said
second-hand car dealer Sonny Soh of Sonny Soh Sdn Bhd. He told
StarBiz that the previous interest rates of 3.5% to 5% were already
one to two percentage points higher than the rates for new cars.
Currently, the company is selling only used non-national
cars. “Is this a government plan to discourage people from
buying non-national cars and boost sales of national cars?” Soh
New and reconditioned, or recond, car dealer Zulkifli
Ahmad agrees that the hike should not have happened, but sees little
impact on car sales in the longer term.
He said his company was informed by its bankers
last Friday that the new interest rates for its recond cars now
had increased to between 3.3% and 3.5%, compared with 2.3% to 2.5%
The company is selling reconditioned or refurbished
cars imported directly from Japan and Britain as well as new non-national
“Higher interest rates may cause less demand
in the immediate term but sales might pick up again once consumers
are used to the new interest rate as people are still buying cars,” Zulkifli
Yap Chow Bin, the owner of used car dealer Motor
Exchange, also sees little impact from the move.
Motor Exchange sells both used national and non-national
cars at prices ranging from RM10,000 to RM80,000.
“Instead there may be a rise in demand for
second-hand cars as there is a possible fall in demand for new
cars due to the higher interest rates for new non-national cars,” he
told StarBiz. Yap said the most popular used cars he sold ranged
between RM20,000 and RM30,000.
“The one percentage point increase may be
just a little difference for consumers because they normally do
not get big sum of loans for used cars,” he said.
The interest rates for Motor Exchange’s
used national and non-national cars have increased to between 4.25%
and 7%, compared with 3.1% to 6% previously. Interest rates for
used cars normally depends on the age of the vehicle, hiring period,
margin of financing and even the loan borrowers’ net income,
Used car dealer Destiny Auto Sdn Bhd owner Mohd
Khadhir Hassan said he had actually received offers of lower interest
rates for its used national cars.
“Our new interest rates now are between
3.5% and 4.5%, which is lower than 4.25% to 6% previously.
“We expect an increase in sales for used
national cars with the lower interest rates,” he said, adding
that he reckoned the hike in car loan rates was the Government’s
plan to promote national cars.
Meanwhile, hire purchase rates have been increased
across the board for both new non-national cars and used cars effective
Monday, banking sources said.
Banks would not make an official public announcement
on that but would inform their respective car dealers, one source
Interest rates for popular used cars for both
national and non-national cars aged up to 10 years old, have increased
to between 3.75% and 4%, according to the source.