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April 15, 2021

New Car Sales Tanked 21.1 Percent in March

The effect of the DTI safeguard bond has been felt by the Philippine automotive industry. After showing some positive signs for the first two months of 2021, motor vehicle sales tanked 21.1 percent in March.

The data, released by the joint report of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) showed that new vehicle sales dropped 21.1 percent last month compared to February.

Despite March having more selling days, the Philippine auto industry managed to move just 20,702 units compared to 26,230 units in February. Only light trucks and large trucks/buses posted growth month-on-month.

Aside from the DTI safeguard bond, which either resulted in carmakers increasing their prices, or buyers having to shoulder a hefty deposit fee, the industry was also hit by the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine or ECQ—the strictest of the quarantine measures set by the government to curb rising COVID-19 cases.

This move to re-implemented ECQ is expected to have a lingering effect on the industry.

Already resulting to a loss of three selling days (March 29-31), the subsequent extension of ECQ/MECQ means the industry will not be able to record new vehicle sales with the NCR-plus bubble until May 3 due to the closure of LTO offices.

When compared to March 2020, the March 2021 sales posted a strong rebound with 87.7 percent growth because there were only 11,029 units sold in March last year due to the imposition of the first ECQ.

Overall, CAMPI-TMA says that Q1 sales still reached 70,312 units—a 8.9 percent growth from the 64,542 units in the first three months of 2020. It must be remembered that last year, the eruption of Taal Volcano in January resulted in the loss of about 15 selling days, and resulted in the damage to several dealer inventory. Moreover, Metro Manila went through its first brush with ECQ from March 15 to April 14. ECQ was then extended up to April 30—a loss of about 45 selling days.

In the first quarter, data showed that all vehicle categories posted positive. Passenger Cars or PCs posted a 22.9 percent for 21,855 units versus 17,786 units while commercial vehicle sales grew 3.6 percent with 48,457 units sold versus 46,756 units in Q1 2020.

Toyota Motor Philippines posted 28.8 percent growth with total sales of 33,095 units year to date from 25,696 units in the first quarter of 2020.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines, the second biggest car in the market, was able to sell only 11,788 units, a slight 3.7 percent reduction from its 12,235 units in the same first quarter last year.

Nissan Philippines Inc. finished third with 5,198 units sold for steep 39 percent reduction from 8,517 units last year.

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