IT SEEMS, at least for now, that the bulls are back. In its most recent report, the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) revealed that consolidated sales among member-companies totaled 24,523 units last September — growing 37% over the August total of 17,906 units. The August total had put a halt to three consecutive months of growth — declining by 12.8% from 20,542 units sold in July.

“CAMPI remains optimistic that the automotive sector will recover until the end of the year amid the new normal environment as the industry posted double-digit growth,” said the auto group’s President Atty. Rommel Gutierrez in a statement.

With continued aggressive promotions and an influx of new models, it appears people are regaining confidence and are buying vehicles again. “Demands for new cars posted double-digits growth on all vehicle categories except trucks and buses. But we are still cautious that consumer spending is below pre-pandemic levels due to the evident shifts to essentials goods and services,” added Atty. Gutierrez. Nonetheless, year-to-date total is 148,012 — still a hefty 44.6% lower than the sum sold during the same period last year.

Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. (TMP) cornered 43.46% of the market, pacing all brands. From 8,044 units sold in August, TMP moved 10,657 units in September — up by 32.5%. In second place is Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC), whose sales significantly grew by 105.4% from 2,621 units in August to 5,384 in September. MMPC came away with 21.95% of the market last month.

The month-on-month performance of Nissan Philippines, Inc. (NPI) was virtually unchanged from 1,881 units in August to 1,866 units in September (-0.8%), but still occupied third place with 7.61% market share. In fourth place is Suzuki Philippines, Inc. (SPH) whose sales grew by 26.8% from 1,345 units in August to 1,706 units in September, for 6.96% market share. Completing the top five brands in sales is Ford Motor Company Philippines, Inc. (6.41% market share). It grew by 27.6% vehicles from 1,233 units in August to 1,573 units last month.

CAMPI and TMA had already recalibrated their 2020 sales target to 240,000 units in view of the challenges brought about by the pandemic and even the Taal Volcano eruption early in the year.

“The recent sales trend engender a well-founded belief that meeting our revised sales target for the year is possible,” said Atty. Gutierrez, in a message to “Velocity.” He added that he is “satisfied” with how the industry has rebounded so far, and expects the growth trajectory to be maintained until yearend — provided there is no more tightening of quarantine restrictions. — Kap Maceda Aguila