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Auto firms seek gov’t help as sales slump 48.7%

Auto firms seek gov’t help as sales slump 48.7%

By  Roy Stephen C. Canivel 

The automotive industry is now asking the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for support as the pandemic might lead to worse problems than just the much fewer car sales at the end of the year.

Vehicle sales dropped 35.4 percent to 20,542 in July alone from 31,810 units in the same month last year, according to data from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (Campi) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA).

This brings total sales to 105,583 units in the seven months to July this year, a 48.7-percent slump from the 205,945 units sold in the comparative period in 2019.

Campi, however, feared that the pandemic might hurt the industry in other ways too.

CAMPI president Atty. Rommel Gutierrez

“This volume reduction can have serious operational and financial impact on the automotive industry. We have submitted some recommendations for industry support, which are now under study by the DTI,” said Campi president Rommel Gutierrez.

“The industry is doing all it can to sustainably provide sales promotions to encourage customers amid another stricter community quarantine for this month,” he added.

While he did not expound on the specific forms of support the industry group requested, this petition added to the voice of other industries also appealing for help from the government during the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, the DTI has been studying a move that would have taxed imported vehicles more in order to protect local automotive workers. Car companies opposed this, since they too have been heavily importing the units they sell here.

“It is understandable that achieving the industry’s average monthly pre-COVID-19 level remains elusive and a challenge at the same time amid this pandemic and the recent pronouncement of economic recession,” said Gutierrez.

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It remains to be seen, however, if the DTI would be lenient toward the sector this time around, especially since the pandemic had easily disrupted industries, leaving nearly all businesses groping in uncharted territory.

Toyota Motors Philippines Corp. was still the market leader, selling 44,481 units despite a 49.2-percent drop in volume sales as of the first seven months of the year.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. followed with 18,282 units after dropping 49.2 percent, while Nissan Philippines Inc. ranked third with 11,821 units, a 52.2-percent decline.

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