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The two biggest auto industry groups in the country – the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. / Truck Manufacturers Association (CAMPI/TMA) and the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID) – both posted sales increases this July compared to June, showing month-to-month growth.

CAMPI/TMA reported a 31.9% increase to 20,542 total vehicle sales in July from 15,578 units last June, while AVID claimed a 38% hike with 5,100 units sold in July from 3,697 units sold in June.

However, year-on-year, CAMPI/TMA sales fell by 35.4% from 31,810 units sold in July 2019 while year-to-date, sales plunged by 48.7% compared with the same period a year ago.

AVID reported that year-to-date July 2020, unit sales reached 24,607 units or a 51% slump from the same period last year.

In a press statement, CAMPI president Rommel Gutierez said that although achieving the industry’s average monthly pre-COVID 19 remains elusive and a challenge at the same time amid the pandemic and the recent pronouncement of economic recession, the month-on-month growth of nearly 32% is what the industry needs at this point to achieve its sales forecast of 240,000 units for this year.

The 240,000 unit sales target for 2020 is equivalent to a 41.5% decrease versus the total industry sales volume posted in 2019.

“The industry is doing all it can to sustainably provide sales promotions to encourage customers amid another stricter community quarantine for this month,” Gutierrez said, adding that on its part, the industry is ensuring that all the necessary safety measures are strictly observed to protect both its customers and front liners.

DISRUPTIVE SELLING TACTICS. Meanwhile, in a press statement, AVID president Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo said: “The entire industry is undergoing rapid digital transformation to meet the evolving needs of consumers, employing innovative and disruptive selling tactics to win back customers, and the agility to adapt to a more complex and unpredictable business environment.

“Given that we have already bottomed out in the first semester, we believe the second half of the year will be better assuming there are no further lockdowns past August 18.  We understand the government’s decision to shift back to MECQ since we need to prioritize lives over livelihood.

“We anticipated such scenarios and are therefore prepared to adapt and respond, keeping in mind the needs and safety of our customers.  Our focus now is to win back consumer confidence and give them the best value during these pandemic times.”

AVID noted that demand for passenger cars and subcompact SUVs is beginning to pick up as consumers look for safe and affordable personal mobility due to restrictions on public transport and the ongoing pandemic.  An increase in sales of small utility trucks and vans was also observed, underscoring the importance of transport and logistics in putting the Philippine economy back on track.

TOP 5 BRANDS. A look at the consolidated total vehicle sales year-to-date July 2020 of CAMPI/TMP and AVID indicates that the brands that made the Top Five at the end of the first semester retained their rankings led by Toyota Motor PH Corp., with Mitsubishi Motors PH Corp. second, Nissan PH, Inc. third, Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. fourth and Suzuki PH, Inc. fifth (see chart.)

Suzuki, which leapfrogged over Ford and Honda in the first semester to break into the Top Five, enjoys an 882-unit lead over 6th place Ford Motor Co. PH, Inc. as of YTD July 2020.

Ford is hanging on to sixth place with 6,558 units sold YTD July 2020, but is in danger of being overtaken by Honda Cars PH. Inc. which posted 6,431 units sold, only 127 units less.

There is also a close contest between 9th place Foton Motor PH, Inc. which scored 1,263 in sales YTD July 2020, and 10th place Kia distributor Adventure Cycle PH, Inc. which sold 1,148 vehicles. A difference of 115 units.

In the month-to-month sales column, all the Top Ten brands were winners as all sold many more vehicles this July compared to last June.  But the euphoria vanishes when the sales figures for the month of July 2020 are compared with those for July 2019 (see MTD Sales July 2020 chart.)

No wonder CAMPI chief Atty.Gutierrez, who is concurrently 1st vice president of Toyota Motor PH, said: “This volume reduction can have serious operational and financial impact on the automotive industry.”

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT.  He revealed that the industry is seeking support from the Department of Trade and Industry: “We have submitted some recommendations for industry support which are now under study by the DTI.”     

Ms Agudo, who heads both AVID and Hyundai Asia Resources, commented in an online interview: “AVID is one with the auto industry in calling for government support given the impact of the pandemic.  As reported earlier, automotive sales are down by over 50 percent in the first seven months of the year.

“Prior to the lockdowns, we already conveyed our position to push for the industry’s competitiveness, one of which is for government to thoroughly study the proposed imposition of so-called ‘safeguard measures’ on imported vehicles.  Penalizing imports will not trigger investments nor will it address pressing issues regarding regional competitiveness of our local manufacturing sector.

“We welcome policies that will further improve the ease of doing business which would open opportunities for investments, create jobs for our workers, and provide reliable and affordable mobility for Filipinos.  We trust that government will continue to support the automotive sector with policies to accelerate our recovery on the road to a Better Normal.”

CONTINUED MOMENTUM?  Meanwhile, with the shift back to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) protocols allowing more economic activity, industry observers are wondering whether the two-week (Aug. 4-18), more rigid Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine has disrupted the month-to-month growth momentum in sales. 

Only the forthcoming CAMPI/TMA and AVID sales reports for August 2020 will tell.