IMPORTED car sales surged in April after coming off an extremely low base during the strict lockdown in the same month last year, the industry association said.

In a report on Tuesday, the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors, Inc. (AVID) said its 21 members which distribute 26 global brands sold 4,396 units in April, or 24,322% higher than just 18 vehicles sold during the enhanced community quarantine that shut down auto dealerships a year ago.

Although year-on-year sales grew, April sales declined by 13% from the 5,193 units sold in March. The government imposed another set of strict quarantine restrictions in the capital region and its neighboring provinces at the end of March after a surge of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

Year-to-date sales went up 40% to 20,353 units.

Passenger car sales surged to 987 in April from just 7 last year, led by sales from Suzuki Philippines, Inc. The category’s year-to-date sales grew 16% to 5,328 units.

Light commercial vehicle sales soared to 3,116 from 11 last year, with a bulk of sales going to Ford Group Philippines, Inc. Year-to-date sales increased by 44% to 14,314 units.

The industry group sold 293 commercial vehicles in April after selling none in the same month last year. Year-to-date sales increased by almost eight times to 711 units.

“With these encouraging figures, I say we at AVID have boldly transformed ourselves and have become even better at what we do, which is to provide our customers an end-to-end mobility experience that best suits the needs of the times,” AVID President Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo said.

Another car industry group recorded a 13,315% sales growth to 17,843 vehicles in April, which it called a record increase since the start of the pandemic last year.

Last month’s sales, however, remain 13.8% lower than March figures, data from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA)  showed.

Imported car sales growth in 2021 is expected to come in at between zero and 20%, depending on the government’s final decision on safeguard duties, Ms. Perez-Agudo said in March.

The Trade department imposed 200-day provisional safeguard duties on imported cars to protect domestic-industry jobs after it found a link between a decline in employment and higher imports, following a petition from an auto parts industry union. — Jenina P. Ibañez