Coronavirus slams PHL vehicle sales in 2020

Shaun H. Ruff
Sales of new vehicles plunged in 2020 due to the strict lockdown and economic slowdown. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MIGUEL ANTONIO N. DE GUZMAN

By Jenina P. Ibañez, Reporter

CAR SALES slumped in 2020, after a holiday demand spike failed to make up for the plunge in demand during the coronavirus-induced lockdown, data from two automotive industry groups showed.

Data from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) released on Thursday showed full-year sales stood at 223,793 units, 39.5% lower than the 369,941 sales in 2019.

Imported vehicle sales declined 41% to 51,719 units in 2020, the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors, Inc. (AVID) said in a separate report.

Total industry sales of 275,512 exceeds CAMPI’s projection of 240,000 for the year by 15%.

CAMPI-TMA data showed car sales rose 19.1% to 27,596 units in December, from 23,162 units sold in November, due to seasonal demand. However, December sales were still 18.1% lower than the 33,715 units sold in the same month of 2019.

Full-year 2020 and December 2020 car sales
“It is noteworthy that the holiday season has contributed to the uptick in demand for auto sales in December amid the improving business and consumer confidence,” CAMPI President Rommel R. Gutierrez said in a statement.

A decline in car sales was seen as early as January after some plants and dealerships in the National Capital Region and the Calabarzon Region were forced to temporarily suspend operations due to ashfall from the Taal Volcano eruption.

Sales plunged as much as 99% in April, at the height of the strict lockdown in Luzon, but has since slightly recovered as restrictions eased. The pace of decline slowed in September, as the month usually starts off an upward trend in automotive sales due to the upcoming holiday season.

Year on year, commercial vehicle sales in December fell 23.1% to 18,815 units. Asian utility vehicle sales dropped by 11.6% to 3,940 units, while light commercial vehicle sales slipped by 25.1% to 13,962 units.

Passenger car sales in December declined 5% to 8,781 units compared with the same month the previous year.

Year to date, commercial vehicle sales plunged 40.9% to 154,155 units, while passenger vehicle sales sank 36.2% to 69,638 units.

Toyota Motors Philippines Corp. (TMP) remained the market leader with a 44.69% share, followed by Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. with 16.70% and Nissan Philippines, Inc. with 9.72%.

The AVID report showed sales of imported passenger cars slid 46% to 16,588 units, while light commercial vehicle sales fell 37.6% to 34,826 units and commercial vehicle sales dropped 66% to 305 cars.

“Automotive was among the hard-hit sectors in this pandemic and we continue to feel the impact as sales, after-sales and auto-related services remain lackluster,” AVID President Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo said.

She said the industry must focus on creating more job opportunities, upgrading infrastructure and logistics, and improving the ease and cost of doing business to revive the sector.

Both industry groups have criticized safeguard duties placed on car imports this month, saying that the measure would impede recovery.

The Trade department slapped duties on imported cars to protect local industries after its investigation found a link between a recent surge in imports and declining local employment.

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