Automobile sales drop 12% in February

Vehicle sales in February declined by double digits year-on-year, but improved month-on-month, industry data showed on Thursday amid continued concerns over the government’s recent imposition of duties on car imports.

In a joint report, the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (Campi) and the Truck Manufacturers Association said automakers sold 26,230 units in the second month, a 12-percent decrease from 29,790 a year earlier, but a 12-percent increase from 23,380 in January.

Sales of commercial vehicles (CVs) dropped by 15.5 percent to 18,331 units from 21,697 in February 2020, while those of passenger cars (PCs) tumbled to 7,899 from 8,093 a year earlier.

Year-to-date, car sales contracted by 7.3 percent year-on-year to 49,610 units from 53,513.

Campi President Rommel Gutierrez welcomed the double-digit month-on-month recovery, but voiced his group’s fears about the imposition of safeguard measures on imported vehicles.

The duties imposed by the Department of Trade and Industry last month were in the form of cash bonds amounting to P70,000 and P110,00 for every PC and CV imported, respectively.

The Philippine Metalworks Alliance had appealed for them, arguing that more car imports could harm the local motor vehicle manufacturing industry.

“While the industry sees early signs of recovery, the provisional import duties, more so if it becomes definitive, will derail any recovery effort of the automotive industry,” Gutierrez warned.

“Rather than restricting imports, a better incentive scheme must be crafted to attract investments for local production of motor vehicles,” he said.

Toyota Motors Philippines Corp. remained the top market player in the first two months with a 48.16-percent share. It sold 23,894 units, 12.9 percent higher than the year-earlier’s 21,173.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. came second with 17.32 percent. It sold 8,590 units, down 18.9 percent from 10,590.

And Nissan Philippines Inc. placed third with 7.34 percent, selling only 3,640 units, a 46.2-percent decline year-on-year.