Figure represents 40% decline from 2019 total

By Kap Maceda Aguila

THE PHILIPPINE auto industry finally puts a lid on a turbulent 2020 — a year when it ended up selling 275,512 units based on reported totals from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI), Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors, Inc. (AVID), and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA). This figure represents a hefty 40% decline from the 2019 total of 457,110 vehicles sold.


CAMPI and TMA reported a joint sales total of 27,596 units last December — growing 19.1% over the previous month’s 23,162. The December 2020 figure is 18.1% below the 33,715 units sold over the same period in 2019.

In a release, CAMPI President Atty. Rommel Gutierrez said he sees the double-digit growth as a “positive development” in the industry’s desire to reach pre-pandemic performance levels.

Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. (TMP) continued to lead last December, accounting for 49.7% of sales. It sold 13,455 units compared to 11,455 in November (+19.7%). Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. ranked second (cornering 15.2% of total sales) with 4,195 units sold last month (from 3,221 in November, up 30.2%). Third place was held by Nissan Philippines, Inc. with 2,117 units moved (up by 24.3% from November’s 1,703 total), representing 7.67% of total sales. Ford Motor Company Philippines, Inc. moved up one place to fourth in December with 1,847 units sold (+30% from 1,421 units in November), cornering 6.69%. Fifth place went to Suzuki Philippines, Inc., which reported a 8.2% decline in sales from 1,665 in November to 1,529 in December. It still mustered 5.54% of total sales.

Said Atty. Gutierrez, “It is noteworthy that the holiday season has contributed to the uptick in demand for auto sales in December amid the improving business and consumer confidence.”

Meanwhile, AVID’s reported total reflects a 41% decline over the 87,169 vehicles it sold in 2019. In its release, the association representing 26 global brands attributed this decline “to the lockdowns, limited economic activity, and weak consumer demand.”

Said AVID President Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo: “Automotive was among the hard-hit sectors in this pandemic and we continue to feel the impact as sales, after-sales and auto-related services remain lackluster. Despite the hurdles, the industry quickly adapted to the new normal, survived, and are finally seeing some signs of revival. However, we see more headwinds in the coming months.”

AVID moved 5,683 units in December, a 15% uptick versus the previous month — indicating what it called “a slow but steady recovery coming from the most challenging period in Philippine automotive industry.”

Member companies saw a 46% dip in passenger car sales in 2020. Top performers were Hyundai (8,464 units), Suzuki (6,177 units), and Ford (1,005 units). Sales of light commercial vehicles fell by 38% year on year, and was paced by Ford (13,770 units), Suzuki (9,338 units), and Hyundai (7,882 units). Commercial vehicle sales shrunk by 66% to 305 units sold from 2019’s 907 total.

Car companies are expectedly bracing for the effects of the imposition of provisional safeguard duties on vehicle imports (P70,000 for passenger cars, P110,000 for light commercial vehicles), given teeth by Republic Act 8800 or the Safeguard Measures Act. The Act lets the government step in to protect local industries which it perceives to be “seriously injured” by imports.

This had followed an appeal from the Philippine Metalworkers Alliance to the Department of Trade and Industry to take action as the group said the local vehicle manufacturing industry was being adversely affected by the increased importation of vehicles. No tariff is currently exacted from the import of vehicles from Southeast Asian countries.

According to AVID, “Vehicle importers and consumers will soon feel the impact of the additional tariff.”

Atty. Gutierrez said in a text message to “Velocity,” “We will participate in the Tariff Commission public hearings.”

Concluded Ms. Perez-Agudo: “While the worst may be behind us, we still have a long way to go. If we are to restore consumer confidence and revive this sector, we should focus on creating more job opportunities, upgrade infrastructure and logistics, and improve the ease and cost of doing business. We are all for the long-term development of the auto industry in the new normal.”