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BOOKING NUMBERS: HOW SHOULD YOU READ INTO IT?

Just about every other car brand in Malaysia has done it before, some have stopped, others are still at it. We are talking about the reporting of bookings made on new cars and how much you, a consumer, should read into it.

A booking does not necessarily equate to a sale. Some media outlets are unable to tell one from the other and assume both as the same thing, but this is not the case. The sale of a new vehicle is always backed by a new registration with the road transport department, this piece of information is then reported to the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) by the official distributors / manufacturers periodically. Insofar as bookings are concerned, there is no way to verify the data, but you can imagine throwing up such information to milk the herd mentality and/or for chest-thumping purposes.

Unless you’re buying a Ferrari or something rare that’s not in the dealer’s stockyard, the booking fee for mass market cars typically only sets you back at around RM500; with the law clearly stating that no more than 1% of the cash price of the car shall be collected as booking fee. Said fee is also fully refundable if the sale does not go through, such as when an applicant fails to secure a loan.

But how often does that happen? According to a 2016 report by paultan.org (goo.gl/XbY1Bj) that quoted MAA’s president Datuk Aishah Ahmad, ‘the rejection rate (for hire purchase loans) could be as high as 30% to 50%, depending on the credit worthiness of the customer'. MAA also lamented just a few months ago in May 2017 (goo.gl/BvA7jr, a report by The Star) that consumers continue to face difficulties in securing hire purchase loans.

If we are to take the middle ground and assume a loan rejection rate of 40%, which also includes those who fail to get an agreeable trade-in deal or buyer for their existing vehicles, those having second thoughts or a change of heart, etc., you could be looking at eventual transactions that are far more conservative than the booking numbers may indicate.

Let’s stick to the sales data and not alternative facts.
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Mercedes-Benz X-Class
Getting back on top of the luxury auto pecking order has seen Mercedes-Benz take on segments not traditionally within its sights, the latest being the pick-up truck. You saw the concept back in October last year and now the production-ready model has been unveiled. The Mercedes-Benz X-Class -- which is underpinned by the Nissan Navara -- will be available in Europe before year's end and other parts of the world in 2018. Four different engines have been announced, including a 3.0-litre diesel V6 with three main variants catering to different audiences. Mercedes-Benz is also touting the X-Class as the 'first intelligently connected pickup' via smartphone connectivity and it will be available with active safety features such as lane keeping and active brake assistance. Do you fancy one?
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Jaguar E-Pace
Yes, that's a car flying through the air, inverted. No, it's not a rollover crash test, just the new Jaguar E-Pace performing a barrel roll during its unveiling (really). Jaguar's baby SUV will hit showrooms in the UK before the end of the year, with its sights set on the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3.
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The new Audi A8
We're going to make a prediction: when German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at next year's G20 submit (well, effectively a G19 now that America is great again and assuming Merkel is re-elected later this year), the smart money will be on her stepping out of a new Audi A8 just like this one (but in black of course). So if there's a word to sum up the styling of this new generation Audi limo, it has to be 'stately'. Yes, it's packed with tech, there are hardly any buttons or switches left on the dashboard (great for individuals with tiny fingers like the Donald), there's even a phablet for the boss lounging at the back to customise the intensity of the foot massage while firing off tweets in a jiffy. Wunderbar!
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Are Malaysians ready for car leasing?

We will find out soon enough as Mercedes-Benz Malaysia is now offering a leasing programme dubbed Lease2Go. If you’re unfamiliar with a lease for a car, think of it as an extended rental of a vehicle – you fork out relatively little money upfront (for Lease2Go, it’s two months as refundable deposit and one-month advanced rental, so three months in total), decide on the duration of the tenure and mileage cap, pay the monthly rental as you use the car and return the vehicle when the lease expires. Road tax and insurance premium are factored into the monthly payments, including coverage for roadside assistance, tyres and rims damage, but the lessee is responsible for the cost of servicing the vehicle based on recommended intervals.

While leasing vehicles is uncommon in Malaysia, there are various upsides for companies in areas of accounting, tax and even processes, and the subject of depreciation becomes a non-factor. Vehicle leasing is also useful for entities with expatriate staff. For individuals, leasing bypasses the tricky subject of loan approvals and the resulting long-term financial commitment, not to mention concerns associated with resale values and selling on the vehicle. Just remember that you do not own the vehicle when the lease expires.

For illustration purposes, we have checked the numbers for a Mercedes-Benz E200 (a common choice for a company car) based on the term of three years with a mileage cap of 20,000km a year. 

Model: Mercedes-Benz E200 Avantgarde
Tenure: Three years or 36 months
Mileage cap: 20,000km/year (or 60K km for three years)
Monthly payment: RM8,015 (rental inclusive of GST)
(Penalty for exceeding mileage cap: RM1.20 per kilometre)

Are Malaysians ready for car leasing?

We will find out soon enough as Mercedes-Benz Malaysia is now offering a leasing programme dubbed Lease2Go. If you’re unfamiliar with a lease for a car, think of it as an extended rental of a vehicle – you fork out relatively little money upfront (for Lease2Go, it’s two months as refundable deposit and one-month advanced rental, so three months in total), decide on the duration of the tenure and mileage cap, pay the monthly rental as you use the car and return the vehicle when the lease expires. Road tax and insurance premium are factored into the monthly payments, including coverage for roadside assistance, tyres and rims damage, but the lessee is responsible for the cost of servicing the vehicle based on recommended intervals.

While leasing vehicles is uncommon in Malaysia, there are various upsides for companies in areas of accounting, tax and even processes, and the subject of depreciation becomes a non-factor. Vehicle leasing is also useful for entities with expatriate staff. For individuals, leasing bypasses the tricky subject of loan approvals and the resulting long-term financial commitment, not to mention concerns associated with resale values and selling on the vehicle. Just remember that you do not own the vehicle when the lease expires.

For illustration purposes, we have checked the numbers for a Mercedes-Benz E200 (a common choice for a company car) based on the term of three years with a mileage cap of 20,000km a year.

Model: Mercedes-Benz E200 Avantgarde
Tenure: Three years or 36 months
Mileage cap: 20,000km/year (or 60K km for three years)
Monthly payment: RM8,015 (rental inclusive of GST)
(Penalty for exceeding mileage cap: RM1.20 per kilometre)
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BMW Malaysia has announced the availability of the updated 4-Series coupe range comprising the 420i Sport, 430i M-Sport and the M4. They all sport sharper looks with higher equipment levels but the prices have also been nudged upwards with the 184hp/270Nm 420i starting at RM338,800, the 252hp/350Nm 430i at RM408,800 and the M4 for a staggering RM760,800. The 431hp/550NM M4 is of course in a different league in terms of performance over its 2.0-litre turbo powered stablemates.

So if you only have around RM400K to burn (which rules out the manically quick M4), would you get the facelifted 4-Series or give the two other like-for-like competitors that weve included a fair shake?

(Note: the Audi Q5 coupe isnt available through official channels, the Lexus RC350 retails for over RM500K, as is the Ford Mustang Ecoboost while a Jaguar F-Type starts at RM900K!).

countersteer.my added 4 new photos.

BMW Malaysia has announced the availability of the updated 4-Series coupe range comprising the 420i Sport, 430i M-Sport and the M4. They all sport sharper looks with higher equipment levels but the prices have also been nudged upwards with the 184hp/270Nm 420i starting at RM338,800, the 252hp/350Nm 430i at RM408,800 and the M4 for a staggering RM760,800. The 431hp/550NM M4 is of course in a different league in terms of performance over its 2.0-litre turbo powered stablemates.

So if you only have around RM400K to burn (which rules out the manically quick M4), would you get the facelifted 4-Series or give the two other like-for-like competitors that we've included a fair shake?

(Note: the Audi Q5 coupe isn't available through official channels, the Lexus RC350 retails for over RM500K, as is the Ford Mustang Ecoboost while a Jaguar F-Type starts at RM900K!).
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