Motorists are stuck in traffic along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, July 28, 2022. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

VEHICLE SALES in the Philippines may exceed pre-pandemic levels this year as the economy continues to recover, the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) said.

CAMPI President Rommel R. Gutierrez said the industry is targeting to grow sales by 10% to 15% this year.

“We have seen the trajectory of sales growing last year. In fact, January (sales) is a really good indicator of what is to come this year. I think we are certain to hit the pre-pandemic level this year,” he told reporters during a media event in Taguig City late on Monday.

In 2022, CAMPI and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) members sold a total of 352,596 units, surpassing its sales target of 336,000 units. This is also near the pre-pandemic level of 369,941 units sold in 2019.   

“CAMPI-TMA was (over) 369,000 units (in 2019). We are already at 350,000 last year. It’s really a small gap and we are confident that we will more than hit the 2019 level this year,” Mr. Gutierrez said.

“We are optimistic that the growth will continue this year.”

Vehicle sales were off to a good start this year, as CAMPI-TMA members sold 29,499 units in January. This is 42% higher than the 20,765 units sold in the same month last year.   

Mr. Gutierrez expects auto sales to continue increasing this year due to pent-up demand.

“Yes, there is still pent-up demand. The supply continues to improve and in fact, we have many models coming this year. So, that will really boost the sales. All brands are really preparing for this year’s full recovery,” he said.

However, the industry is facing supply challenges arising from the shortage of microchips used in vehicles, Mr. Gutierrez said.

“For some models yes, (there are supply issues). Especially those Japan sourced models are really still affected by the shortage of microchips,” Mr. Gutierrez said.   

In January, the auto industry’s sales were driven by strong demand for commercial vehicles and passenger cars.

Commercial vehicle sales jumped by 46.8% to 21,993 in January, as sales of light commercial vehicles went up by 40.9% to 16,757 units. Sales of Asian utility vehicles surged by 87.1% to 4,587 units.

Passenger car sales increased by 29.8% to 7,506 units in January. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave