The modernized IOS showroom design highlights Isuzu Tagum’s sprawling 11,000 sq.m. — PHOTO FROM ISUZU PHILIPPINES CORPORATION

CAR SALES declined by 11.2% in January from a year earlier after a fresh surge in coronavirus infections spurred by the highly mutated Omicron variant, according to an industry group. 

Vehicles sold by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. and Truck Manufacturers Association fell to 20,765 units last month, they said in a joint report on Friday. 

Passenger car sales fell by a fifth to 5,784 units from a year earlier, while commercial vehicle sales declined by 6.9% to 14,981 units. January car sales were also a quarter lower than a month earlier. 

In a statement, chamber President Rommel R. Gutierrez said the industry expected the decline, noting that car sales are typically sluggish after the holidays. 

He said vehicle sales had also been affected by the coronavirus spike. 

“Unfortunately, we cannot dismiss the impact of tighter restrictions reimposed in January as new cases of COVID-19 rose particularly in National Capital Region and nearby provinces, resulting in a lukewarm reception for big-ticket item spending,” Mr. Gutierrez said.   

The government tightened the lockdown in the capital region on Jan. 3 to 31 because of the infection surge. It has since been relaxed after COVID-19 cases started falling. 

“The pandemic is something that the industry will have to continue dealing with during these uncertain times just like other industries even with the rollout of the vaccines,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “Hopefully, COVID-19 will be contained in the foreseeable future so we can all get back on track to recovery.” 

The groups said Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. had the biggest market share at 47.57% or 9,877 units sold, followed by Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. with 2,954 units sold (14.23%), Nissan Philippines, Inc. with 1,781 units (8.58%) and Suzuki Phils., Inc. with 1,430 units (6.89%).  

The industry groups missed their goal of selling 295,400 units last year, having sold 268,488 units, for a 20% yearly growth. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave