Vehicles are seen along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

NEW VEHICLE SALES rose by 27.2% year on year in February, bolstering the industry’s hopes it can exceed pre-pandemic sales levels this year.

A joint report released by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) showed vehicle sales reached 30,905 units in February, higher than 24,304 units sold a year earlier.

“The industry demonstrated anew positive sales growth of 27.2% in February 2023 on a year-on-year basis — a clear indicator of a continuously progressing auto industry from the pandemic,” CAMPI President Rommel R. Gutierrez said in a statement. 

Auto SalesMonth on month, February vehicle sales rose by 4.8%.

In February, commercial vehicle sales increased by 29% to 23,716 units, accounting for 76.74% of the industry’s total sales. This was driven by double-digit growth in sales of light commercial vehicles that went up by 20.4% to 18,035 and Asian utility vehicles (AUVs) that rose by 84.1% to 4,896.

Sales of passenger cars jumped by 21.6% to 7,189, which made up 23.26% of total sales in February.

Month on month, sales of commercial vehicles grew by 7.8%, while passenger car sales declined by 4.22%.

For the first two months of the year, vehicle sales went up by 34% year on year to 60,404 units.

Commercial vehicle sales rose by 37% to 45,709, led by strong demand for light commercial vehicles (up by 29% to 34,792) and AUVs (up by 85.5% to 9,483 units).

Passenger car sales jumped by 25.6% to 14,695 in the January-to-February period.

As of end-February, Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. led all car manufacturers in terms of sales with 28,299 units sold, equivalent to a 46.85% market share.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. ranked second with 10,656 units sold for a 17.64% market share, followed by Ford Motor Co. Phils., Inc. with 4,171 units (6.91%), Nissan Philippines, Inc. with 3,535 units (5.85%), and Suzuki Phils., Inc. with 2,939 units (4.87%). 

Mr. Gutierrez said CAMPI and TMA members aim to sell 395,000 units this year, 12% higher than the 352,596 units sold in 2022.

“Members of CAMPI and TMA remain optimistic that sales will further grow by 10% to 15%, heading towards the 395,000-unit sales mark this 2023 from the actual sales of 352,596 units recorded last year,” Mr. Gutierrez said. 

“Various economic favorable indicators are prevailing, improving the overall outlook of the economy alongside increasing consumer demand for new motor vehicles,” he added.

If the 2023 sales target is met, it would surpass the 369,941 units sold by CAMPI-TMA members in 2019.

This would also be the second-highest ever sales for CAMPI-TMA, since the 425,673 units sold in 2019 or a year before the implementation of Republic Act No. 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law. 

The law increased excise tax rates on automobiles to generate more revenues for the government. However, the law also exempted electric vehicles and pickup trucks.

There are concerns that vehicle sales could take a hit if the government pushes through with the lifting of the excise tax exemption for pickup trucks.

In November, the House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 4339 or the fourth package of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Package program on third and final reading, which includes the removal of the excise tax exemption enjoyed by pickup trucks. 

The exemption on pickup trucks was included in the TRAIN law as part of state efforts to help small business owners and professionals.

Total auto industry sales are forecast to hit 408,300 units this year. These include sales from CAMPI and TMA members, as well as Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors exclusive members and MG Motors Phils.

The sales projection is 10.4% higher than the 369,981 units sold by the auto industry in 2022. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave