CAR SALES recovered to post year-on-year increases both in June and last semester, according to data jointly released to media on Thursday by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA).

The joint CAMPI-TMA sales report showed total industry sales increased by 8.7% to 31,950 vehicles last month from 29,395 a year ago, taking the six-month total to 174,135 units, about 1.46% more than the 171,635 vehicles sold in 2018’s first half.

In a separate press release accompanying the report, the groups said the industry “continues to show signs of recovery and stability,” especially as preliminary data in 2018 — when consumers reeled from an increase in auto excise tax rates in January and successive multi-year-high overall inflation — showed sales falling by 21.7% in June last year and down 12.5% in 2018’s first half.

“We remain very optimistic that the local auto industry is already on a path of steady growth after we conclude the first half of the year on a positive note,” the press release quoted CAMPI President Rommel R. Gutierrez as saying. “The automotive brands’ collective efforts — highlighted by fleet sales, good financing deals as well as model updates and upgrades — show that we have learned to adjust and adapt to market conditions, thus helping consumers acquire new vehicles with fewer hurdles.”

Broken down, June saw passenger car sales surge by 22% to 9,532 vehicles from 7,811 a year ago, while commercial vehicle sales grew 3.9% to 22,418 units from 21,584.

The increase in commercial vehicle sales was driven by an 18.1% hike in light commercial vehicle (LCV) sales to 17,921 units from 15,179 vehicles. The overall impact of the increase in this segment was capped by drops of 33.1% to 3,387 units of Asian utility vehicles (AUVs) and 17.6% to 582 light trucks, among others.

Year to date, the passenger car segment still saw sales drop 6.4% to 52,418 vehicles from 56,029 in 2018’s first half, while commercial vehicle sales increased by 5.3% to 121,717 units from 115,606 vehicles. Among commercial vehicle segments, AUV sales dropped by 42.9% to 16,147 vehicles from 28,279, while LCV sales increased by 23.1% to 98,783 units from 80,248 and light trucks added 8.8% to 3,778 vehicles from 3,473.

Last semester saw Toyota Motors Philippines Corp. still lead the pack with a 42.18% share of total industry sales with 73,454 units, up just 0.4% from last year’s first half; followed by Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. that accounted for 17.92% with 31,210 vehicles sold, down 6.9% from a year ago; Nissan Philippines, Inc. that contributed 12.09% with 21,060 units, reflecting a 59.3% jump; Ford Motor Company Philippines, Inc. which sold 11,227 vehicles — 6.45% of the total — down 10.2%; and Suzuki Philippines, Inc. that sold 10,817 vehicles — 6.21% of total industry sales — 14.4% more than a year ago. — K. T. Mina