VEHICLE SALES saw an improvement in June, showing signs of recovery as lockdown restrictions eased, although first-half sales continued to lag.

Data from the joint report of Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) showed that vehicle sales in the first half fell 51.2% to 85,041 units compared to the same period last year.

In June alone, vehicle sales more than tripled to 15,578 units compared to 4,788 units in May and 133 units in April.

However, the month’s sales figure remained 51.2% lower than the 31,950 units sold in June 2019.

Car dealerships were shut from mid-March due to the Luzon-wide lockdown. Some dealerships started reopening in mid-May after lockdown restrictions were relaxed.

CAMPI President Rommel R. Gutierrez said in a statement that he remains cautiously optimistic about industry growth amid social and economic risks posed by the pandemic.

“This positive growth shows early signs that consumer demand for new cars is starting to improve albeit slowly. The auto industry recovery may take time as vehicle sales still remain a challenge,” he said.

Commercial vehicle sales, which accounts for 70% market share, declined 51.5% to 10,867 in June from the same month last year. Broken down, Asian utility vehicle sales slipped 29.9% to 2,373 units in June, while light commercial vehicle sales dropped 56.4% to 7,808 units.

Sales of passenger vehicles fell 50.6% to 4,711 units in June.

Year to date, commercial vehicle sales slumped 49.8% to 61,129 units, while passenger vehicle sales declined by 54.4% to 23,912 vehicles.

Toyota Motor Philippines retained its market leadership with 48% market share, while year-on- year sales fell 48.6% to 7,485 units in June.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp.’s sales declined 56.5% to 2,268 units, giving it 14.56% market share in June. Suzuki Philippines, Inc. claimed 9.6% market share even as sales slid 30.8% to 1,495 units.

Nissan Philippines Inc. clinched 6.5% market share as sales plummeted 73.9% to 1,012 units. Ford Motor Co. Philippines, Inc. has 6.17% market share, with sales dropping 44.6% to 961 units.

Last week, Kia Philippines said it is optimistic that auto industry sales will reach 275,000 units this year,

“Other sources have said that we are looking at about a range of 240,000 to about 255,000 unit sales for this year… In Kia Philippines, we spent some time trying to analyze and doing a forecast on how things will be. So our forecast for the industry this year is a more aggressive 275,000,” Kia Philippines President Emmanuel A. Aligada said in an online press conference.

Combining figures from automotive manufacturing and import groups released by January, the industry sold 457,925 vehicles last year.

Mr. Aligada said he is seeing more demand from employers looking to transport workers amid public transportation challenges and individuals who prefer transportation with fewer health risks.

Mr. Gutierrez said the industry is using digital platforms for sales promotions. Some companies have launched or plan to launch virtual dealerships, while several have rolled out discounts.

Honda Philippines is offering cash discounts for buyers of its City, CR-V, Civic, Brio Amaze, Mobilio, and Accord units in July. Toyota Motors Philippines is also offering savings and low monthly payments for some vehicles this month.

Mitsubishi Philippines extended its “mid-year lowdown” low downpayment promo for its L300, Montero, Strada, and Mirage HB. — Jenina P. Ibañez