New vehicle sales climbed by 22% in August. — REUTERS

AUTOMOBILE SALES in the Philippines registered a double-digit annual growth in August but saw a month-on-month sales decline amid elevated inflation.

A joint report by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) showed new vehicle sales rose by 21.6% to 36,714 units in August from 30,185 units in the same month a year ago.

“Consumer demand drives the auto sales further… from an already considered pre-pandemic performance a year prior amidst the above inflation target recorded anew in the same period,” CAMPI President Rommel R. Gutierrez said in a statement.

Auto Sales (August 2023)However, vehicle sales slipped by 1% from 37,086 units that were sold in July, reflecting the impact of rising prices.

Headline inflation unexpectedly picked up to 5.3% in August from 4.7% in July amid rising costs of fuel and food.

CAMPI-TMA data showed commercial vehicles accounted for the bulk of the August sales. Sales of commercial vehicles rose by 13.5% to 26,620 units in August from 23,452 in the same month in 2022.

Month on month, commercial vehicle sales declined by 3.5% from 27,577 units in July.

In particular, light commercial vehicles (LCV) climbed by 16.8% to 20,991 during the month. Month on month, sales of LCVs fell by 2.9%.

Sales of Asian utility vehicles (AUV) dipped by 0.3% year on year to 4,576 in August. AUV sales slumped by 8.3% month on month.

Sales of light trucks increased by an annual 29.5% to 597 in August, while heavy truck sales surged by 50.6% to 128. However, sales of medium trucks went down by 4.7% to 328 units.

Meanwhile, passenger car sales accelerated by an annual 49.9% to 10,094 units in August from 6,733 units a year ago. Month on month, sales of passenger cars rose by 6.15% from 9,509 units in July.

For the first eight months of the year, CAMPI-TMA members sold 276,215 units, increasing by 29.8% from 212,872 a year ago.

“The 276,215 units year-to-date sales of CAMPI-TMA, up by 30% from the same period a year ago — equivalent to 70% of the 395,000 sales forecast is certainly giving optimism of a sustained and even stronger post-pandemic recovery for the auto industry,” Mr. Gutierrez said.

Commercial vehicles, which accounted for 75% of the total industry sales, reported a 28% increase in sales to 205,764 units in the January-to-August period.

Passenger car sales jumped by 35.3% to 70,451 in the eight-month period.

“The auto industry is mindful of the challenges brought by high inflation and its effect on the overall consumer confidence particularly for big-ticket items — not welcome news to the consumers and industry alike if it will persist,” Mr. Gutierrez said.

For the eight-month period, inflation averaged 6.6%. The Philippine central bank is projecting inflation to average 5.6% this year.

Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. (TMP) remained the market leader with a 45.9% share as eight-month sales rose by 16.6% to 126,795.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. came in second spot with a 67% surge in sales to 50,439 in the January-to-August period.

In third spot is Ford Motor Company Phils., Inc. as its sales jumped by 47.6% to 19,700 units in the period ending in August.

Rounding out the top five are Nissan Philippines, Inc., which saw a 23.4% increase in sales to 17,873 units, and Suzuki Phils., Inc. whose sales dropped by 7.9% to 11,821 units.

In 2022, CAMPI-TMA members sold a total of 352,596 units. — Justine Irish D. Tabile