AUTO SALES in April roughly steadied from a year ago, even as they dipped from the preceding month, according to latest data which the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association sent to reporters on Tuesday.

The data showed car sales edging up by a mere 0.8% to 25,799 vehicles in April from 25,583 units a year ago, even as the latest tally was 19.8% less than March’s 32,173 units.

The latest count brought year-to-date sales to 111,187 units, sliding 0.4% from 111,620 vehicles sold in 2018’s first four months.

April alone saw passenger car sales, which contributed 29.69% to the total, drop 22.7% to 7,661 vehicles from the 9,910 units sold a year ago, and by 16.85% from March’s 9,214 vehicles.

Commercial vehicle sales, which accounted for 70.31% of April’s total, rose 15.7% to 18,183 vehicles from 15,673 units a year ago, even as they were 21% less than the 22,959 vehicles sold in March. Under this category, sales of Asian utility vehicles totaled 2,178 units, down 36.70% from 3,439 a year ago, while sales of light commercial vehicles rose 35.4% in sales to 14,954 vehicles from 11,045 units a year ago.

Year-to-date, passenger car sales dropped 12.8% to 33,833 vehicles from 38,817 units in 2018’s first four months, while sales of commercial vehicles rose 6.3% to 77,354 units from 72,803 units.

The auto industry expects to grow sales by a tenth this year from 357,410 vehicles in 2018 that saw a 16% drop — the first fall in seven years, as new auto excise taxes and inflation’s surge dampened market appetite.

In an e-mail to reporters yesterday, CAMPI President Rommel R. Gutierrez said that although sales have been “erratic” on a monthly basis, the group expects a “positive growth trend on a yearly basis will continue to improve in the coming months.”

Year-to-date, Toyota Motors Philippines Corp. continued to top other manufacturers with a 40.47% market share with 44,997 vehciles sold, 4.9% less than 47,307 units sold a year ago. — Janina C. Lim