MITSUBISHI Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) expects flat sales growth this year due to the spillover effects of the higher excise taxes, but sees some lift from the introduction of new models.

“We in Mitsubishi, we forecast the volume of total demand will be similar in last year. We expect to recover first quarter next year,” MMPC President and CEO Mutushiro Oshikira said Monday in Makati City during a press briefing.

The forecast is more conservative compared to Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. and Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors, Inc. which expect a recovery in sales this year.

However, Mr. Oshikira is still hoping for “slight growth,” banking on 2019 as the first full year that the market will be tested for the Xpander and New Strada, which were released late last year.

Last year, MMPC sold 67,512 units, an 8% decline from 2017.

On Monday, MMPC celebrated hitting one million units in sales after 55 years of operations here, with the Mirage Hatchback driving the sales.

Mr. Oshikira expects MMPC to hit its second million at a much accelerated pace of 10 to 11 years on the back of the push to boost its Mirage production.

During this period, the company is also targeting to increase its market share to 20% from the current 18.89%.

For the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) Program, Mitsubishi said it hiked its investments to P4.7 billion, from the initial P4.3 billion, with majority of the investments allocated for its stamping shop.

Under the CARS Program, MMPC targets to produce 200,000 units within a period of six years. — Janina C. Lim