Car ownership in M’sia third highest in the world: Nielsen

  • Business
  • Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: Car ownership in South-East Asian markets may be among the world’s lowest – except in Malaysia which places third globally – but purchase intent is the highest here, and the region is expected to drive much of the world’s automotive demand in the next few years, says Nielsen.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Automotive Demand found car ownership is relatively low across South-East Asia: 47% of Filipino households do not own a car, and the figure is 46% for Indonesian households. 

Malaysia, however, bucks the trend, with 93% car ownership, placing third in the world.  The country also has the highest incidence of multiple car ownership globally with 54% of households having more than one car.

Despite the overall low ownership, the region’s purchase intent is high.

Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia all rank in the top 10 countries globally in terms of intention to acquire a car within the next two years. Around four in five Indonesian and Thai consumers (81% and 79% respectively) intend to buy a car within the next two years, as do three-quarters of Filipinos (76%) and seven out of 10 Malaysians (71%), compared to just 65% globally.

“Historically automotive demand in South-East Asia has been relatively low, and for many households owning a car has been financially out of reach,” said Chang Park, Managing Director of Nielsen’s Automotive Industry Group in South-East Asia, North Asia and Pacific.

“We have seen those tables turn in a big way in recent years, however, largely due to rising income levels across the region as more and more households join the middle class and attain the financial means to make their first car purchase.”

Intention to upgrade among car owners here is also high, particularly in Indonesia (the highest globally), and the Philippines (seventh highest).

More than nine in 10 Indonesian car owners (94%) intend to upgrade their vehicle when they are financially able, as do 89% of Filipino car owners, 88% of Malaysian car owners, and 86% of Thai car owners, compared to a global average of 78%.

Only Singapore fell below the global average, with 74%.


Many South-East Asian car owners also believe their car is an important symbol of success. Car owners in Thailand were more inclined than any other nation globally to view their car as a status symbol (79%), as were Filipinos (72%) followed by car owners in, Indonesia (67%), Malaysia (62%) and Singapore (54%).

This compares to just 52% of consumers globally. 

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Malaysia , South-East Asia , car , ownership , Nielsen


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