KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 (Reuters) - Sales of passenger cars in Malaysia rose 8.5 percent to 21,923 units in February from the same month in 2003, an industry body said on Thursday.
Sales were down 7.6 percent from January's 23,732 units, the Malaysian Automotive Association said.
Total sales, including that of commercial vehicles, were up 13.1 percent to 28,511 units from a year ago.
Malaysian car sales have recovered from a slow year in 2003 when buyers held back in hope of lower prices with the government's adherence to a regional free trade agreement.
At the end of last year, Malaysia cut import tariffs on cars to between 70 and 200 percent from over 300 percent. However, it also raised excise duties to 60-100 percent, leaving prices much the same or even higher, and shifting more of the tax burden to the consumer.