First-half imported car sales down 55% but June shows uptick

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IMPORTED vehicle sales dropped 54.8% in the first half of 2020 after the lockdown led to dealership closures, so far exceeding the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors, Inc.’s (AVID) expected 40% full-year slump.

In a report released Tuesday, AVID said that the industry sold 19,455 units in the first half, or less than half of the 43,082 units sold in the same period last year.

But sales from the industry, made up of 21 member-companies representing 26 global brands, have gradually improved. June sales of 3,697 units almost triple the 1,239 units sold in May.

AVID President Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo in April said that she expects car sales to drop by around 40% for the year.

AVID’s full-year 2019 sales slipped 0.5% to 87,984 from an updated 88,430 units the year before, steadying after a 16.8% drop in 2018 caused by the impact of high inflation rates and new tax hikes on the industry.

Ms. Perez-Agudo said in a press release on Tuesday that despite some recovery in June caused by pent-up demand during the lockdown, industry sales may still be low in the coming months while the demand remains weak.

“While AVID members and their partner dealerships have gone to great lengths to COVID-proof their facilities, strengthen online e-commerce assets, and offer extraordinary promotions and deals to win back customers and encourage buying, headwinds remain. These include lower remittances, weaker demand, and the prospect of a second wave, so we can’t let our guard down,” she said.

AVID expects gradual improvement as businesses reopen after more lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

“We are closely working with the government and other stakeholders to help contain this pandemic while gradually reviving the industry in a safe and sustainable manner. Mobility is key to driving the economy forward and a stronger AVID, within and beyond this pandemic, will definitely play a key role,” Ms. Perez-Agudo said.

Passenger car sales plummeted 60% to 6,111 units in the first half from 15,279 in the same period last year. Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. accounted for most of the sales in this segment with 3,262 units, or around a third of the 9,458 units it sold last year.

Light commercial vehicle sales dropped 51.6% to 13,207, led by Ford Group Philippines, Inc. even as it sold 4,774 units or less than half of the 10,552 sold in the same six months last year.

Commercial vehicle sales fell 73% to 137 units from 503 units, all sold by Hyundai Asia Resources. — Jenina P. Ibañez