CAR SALES in May increased by more than four times from the same month last year after coming off a low base.

A joint report from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) on Monday showed that industry sales went up by 360.8% to 22,062 units in May from 4,788 in the same month in 2020.

Restrictions during the start of the pandemic had dampened consumer activity, with some dealerships just starting to reopen in mid-May 2020 after lockdown rules were relaxed.

Auto Sales

This year, May sales jumped by 23.6% from April, when tighter quarantine measures were in place.

Metro Manila and adjacent provinces were under a modified ECQ (MECQ) to curb a spike in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections until May 14.

“The industry remains optimistic of a nascent recovery but at the same time on guard for any downside risks of the pandemic particularly if lockdowns are reimposed in NCR Plus and in other regions resulting in a tepid consumer confidence,” CAMPI President Rommel R. Gutierrez said.

Sales of all vehicle categories improved in May. Commercial vehicle sales went up by 325.5% to 14,463 units in May compared with 3,399 in the same month a year ago, while also climbing by 17.8% from the April figure.

Passenger car sales surged by 447.1% to 7,599 in May from 1,389 units a year ago, up by 36.43% from the 5,570 sold in April.

For the first five months of the year, CAMPI data showed vehicle sales rose by 58.7% to 110,217 units, from 69,463 units in the same period in 2020.

Year to date, commercial vehicle sales increased by 49.6% to 75,193 units, while passenger car sales jumped by 82.4% to 35,024 units.

Toyota Motors Philippines Corp. (TMP) continued to have the largest market share at 48.86% in May after selling 10,799 units.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. followed with 3,229 units sold at 14.64% market share, while Suzuki Philippines, Inc. sold 1,802 units, with 8.17% market share.

The car industry could recover to pre-pandemic sales as late as 2023, Mr. Gutierrez said earlier this year.

He added that recovery would be achievable if there are certainties in the market, consistent government policies, and widespread inoculation against COVID-19.

The best-case scenario for the industry in 2021, he said, is a 30-35% sales growth, but the provisional safeguard duties on imported cars could lower growth to 20-25% compared with last year’s figure. — Jenina P. Ibañez