By Janina C. Lim
VEHICLE SALES in 2018 dropped for the first time in seven years as the industry reeled amid imposition of higher automobile taxes starting January and the acceleration of headline inflation to the highest in nearly a decade.
A joint report of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) sent Monday to reporters showed that total sales fell 16% to 357,410 units last year from 425,673 vehicles in 2017.
The same comparative years saw passenger car sales accounting for 30.5% of the total and falling by 21.8% to 109,020 from 139,424 units, while commercial vehicle sales, which contributed 69.5%, dropped 13.3% to 248,390 from 286,249.
Data from the Web site of the ASEAN Automotive Federation, which sources its data from the CAMPI and TMA for its Philippine estimates, showed that last year’s decline was the first for the country since 2011 when vehicle sales also dropped by 16% to 141,616 units.
The 2018 slide was also slightly bigger than the 10-15% drop the industry had expected.
December alone saw sales drop 29.8% to 31,945 vehicles from 45,494 units a year ago though 2.2% up from November’s 31,258 units.
Passenger car sales totaled 9,301 units for the month, down 34.4% from 14,182 units a year ago, while commercial vehicle sales totaled 22,644 units, down 27.7% from the year-ago 31,312 units.
Under the commercial vehicle segment, sales of Asian utility vehicles (AUV) slumped 45.3% to 3,539 units in December from 6,472 a year ago, those of light commercial vehicles fell by 23.3% to 17,963 units from 23,434 units, while those of light trucks slipped by 1.7% to 681 units from 693 units.
Full-year 2018 saw Toyota Motors Philippines Corp. leading industry sales with 153,004 vehicles sold — accounting for 42.81% of the total — down 16.8% from 183,908 in 2017.
It was followed by Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. which contributed 18.89% at 67,512 vehicles sold, down 8.3% from 2017’s 73,590; Nissan Philippines, Inc. which contributed 9.78% at 34,952, up 39.8% from 24,995; Ford Motor Company Philippines, Inc. which accounted for 6.59% at 23,571, 35.6% less than 36,623 in 2017; and Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. which accounted for 6.52% at 23,294 vehicles, down 26.7% from 31,758 units in 2017.
“The auto industry has been recovering since the second half of 2018.  We are confident that the continued month-on-month positive sales growth rate during that period will be sustained in 2019,” CAMPI President Rommel R. Gutierrez said in the statement. “With GDP per capita on a high level, more new vehicle models to be introduced and a strong economy, we welcome the new year with great excitement.”
Vehicle sales in the Philippines (2018)