CAR companies participating in a government incentives program to support domestic parts production have manufactured less than half of the required volume so far.

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

As of the end of 2020, Mitsubishi still needs to produce 143,000 Mirage units to meet the target, while Toyota needs 128,000 more of its VIOS, Board of Investments Executive Director Corieh Dichosa said in a press briefing.

The government is considering a three-year extension to the compliance period after an auto industry group asked for a review due to a pandemic-induced sales slump. Mitsubishi has a 2023 deadline for production of its Mirage compact car, while Toyota has until 2024 to produce its VIOS car.

An interagency group on the CARS program is recommending the extension, targeting the signing of an executive order by the end of June this year. The 200,000-unit requirement will be retained.

Car sales in 2020 declined 39.5% to 223,793 units, according to the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association.

The auto industry expects to recover back to pre-pandemic sales as late as 2023 after operations suffered from the effects of the pandemic, CAMPI President Rommel R. Gutierrez said last week.

Sales growth this year could be 30-35% compared with the 2020 figure, but the projection could be cut to 20-25% if safeguard duties on imported cars derail the sector’s recovery efforts, he said. — Jenina P. Ibañez