By Jenina P. Ibañez, Reporter

TOYOTA Motors Philippines Corp. (TMP) is expecting slightly higher overall sales for 2020 than its mid-year projection of a 40% decline, after a recent sales uptick.

The company had earlier expected to sell around 94,000 to 95,000 units compared to last year’s 162,000, but recent trends suggest that 2020 sales could reach around 100,000 units, TMP President Atsuhiro Okamoto said in an online press conference on Saturday.

“Recovery speed is a bit earlier than we assumed at the time,” he said, noting that September sales recovery was higher than the preceding months.

TMP remained the market leader in September with a 43.46% market share as sales declined 20.8% compared with the same month last year, data from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) showed.

Sales declined 38.5% in August, and fell 37.4% in July.

Car companies usually experience a sales jump starting in September due to the upcoming holidays.

“In quarter four, after October, we also project, our projection is around 80% versus last year. That means in theory, our sales projection is around 100,000. That is our latest yearly sales target,” Mr. Okamoto said.

Meanwhile, TMP First Vice President and CAMPI President Rommel R. Gutierrez said that the industry had reached out to the government about adjusting the compliance period for an incentive program created to support local car and parts production.

TMP and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. are participating in the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) program, which offers fiscal support to car companies that locally produce 200,000 units of high-volume car models for six years.

But Mr. Gutierrez had previously said that the companies want the government to extend the compliance period, noting that they may not be able to meet the production target after a sales slowdown caused by the pandemic and the Taal Volcano eruption earlier this year.

In the press conference on Saturday, Mr. Gutierrez said that they had initiated talks with the government.

“While we don’t have [a] conclusion yet, the result of the meeting was positive in the sense that government also understands the difficulty in complying with the volume requirements of the CARS program. So, we will continue to discuss with government in kind ways in order to comply or even make some adjustments in the terms and conditions of the CARS program,” he said.

The Board of Investments in August said it might consider extending the compliance period, requesting the carmakers to submit proposals.

Sales of locally manufactured cars fell by 23% in September, the slowest pace of decline since the lockdown was imposed in March.