Buckling down to recover lost ground

The Philippine automotive industry in 2019 ended with paltry sales of just 416,627 units sold. This was reported to the Times by three major automotive associations: The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMPI), Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA), and the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID). Overall, industry sales registered a minimal 3.69 percent increase in comparison to 2018 figures.

What kept the industry afloat was the strong showing of the Commercial Vehicles segment, which included SUV’s, MPV’s, pick-up trucks, crossovers and buses. These vehicles kept the midnight oil burning for an ailing industry as it accounted for 69.18 percent of the consumer pie, with 288,218 units sold; while the Passenger Car segment accounted for 128,409 units sold rounding off the remaining 30.82 percent of the domestic automotive market.

It was also this year that the Government slapped the industry with the TRAIN Law, whose primary aim was to rationalize taxation of vehicles based on a new table, plus additional excise taxes for fuel products conducted in three tranches. Despite these trying times, the automotive industry remained resilient and managed to survive 2019 with encouraging numbers to welcome 2020.

Then came the unexpected. Covid19 broadsided not just the automotive industry, but other facets of the economy as well. The World ground to a halt, as the virus limited the movement of the consumers which lead to an eventual collapse of the global economy. On the local front, the auto industry coped by adopting to the new normal of selling and launching their products online. New car launches and events were done online also, as the car manufacturers reached out to the target market by way of the internet.

From January to September 2020, combined figures submitted by the CAMPI and AVID sold a total of 162,595 units, which was a significant decrease from 2019 figures of 135,454 units or a 45 percent dip in sales. The country’s biggest manufacturer, Toyota Motors PH, remained at the top with sales figures amounting to 63,182 units. Mitsubishi Motors PH is a distant second with unit sales amounting to 26,568 and with Nissan PH rounding off the top three sellers of 2020 with 15,568 units. Hyundai Asia Resources is at fourth place with 12,346 units old and Suzuki PH with a sales figure of 10,491 units.

For 2020, the bulk of sales came from the Light Commercial Vehicles segment (LCV’s) and Asian Utility Vehicles (AUV’s) with 106,348 units. Passenger cars accounted for 50,548 units sold with the rest of the consumer pie being divided among trucks and buses. Mazda PH President and CEO Steven Tan pointed out that their December 2020 to January 2021 sales report reflected a five percent growth, which according to him is promising considering the downtrend that the industry experienced throughout the past year. “We will be doing a sales centered program and focus on our line of SUV’s and Crossovers for 2021” said Tan.

Recovery Year

The domestic auto industry ended 2020 with encouraging numbers, with a sales increase of 19.1 percent. At the onset of this year, sales figures from CAMPI reflects the tone of what will be the outcome for the remainder of the year. A total of 23,380 vehicles were sold last January with Commercial Vehicles leading the sales blitz. One noticeable fact for 2021 is that 31.2 percent of units sold by manufacturers were Passenger Cars. As usual, Toyota was the top seller with 10,820 units sold for the month of January. Biting at the coat tails of Toyota is Mitsubishi Motors, followed by Nissan PH ( Navara, Urvan and Terra as top sellers) and Ford PH with their Ranger Raptor powering its way through the sales charts coming in at fourth place. In the Passenger Car segment, Honda Cars PH ranked the second strongest in terms of sales, with the Brio sub-compact, City and BR-V variants leading the sales charge.

CAMPI and AVID officials are optimistic about this year’s prospects and expect an 18 percent increase in passenger car sales and a 23 percent spike in sales of Commercial Veh icles. This according to the official is due to the Government’s plan to reboot the economy by opening up parts of the country to local tourism and the recent improvement of infrastructures by the group of business tycoon Ramon Ang.