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What a difference a month makes in the car wars! 
January 2021 scrambled the automotive industry’s top 10 rankings that had remained essentially unchanged during the first pandemic year of 2020.  The tectonic shifts prove that some industry players are smarter than others in adjusting to the “new normal” of the lockdown economy.
The top three – Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan – retained their respective positions, with perpetually undisputed market leader Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation (TMP) even improving sales year-on-year.  
Year-to-date January this year, TMP sold 10,820 vehicles compared to 8,890 in the same month of 2020 (see chart), bucking the industry’s January 2021 versus January 2020 1.4% decrease as reported jointly by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA).

SHOCK & AWE
It is when we come to the 4th to 5th YTD rankings that shock and awe await, thanks to the only American brand in the batch.
Hyundai, which was No. 3 for nine consecutive years until it was overtaken by Nissan in 2019, fell from the Magic 5 circle as 6th placer Ford (1,720 units sold) leapfrogged over No. 5 Suzuki (1,556 units sold) and No. 4 Hyundai (1,330 units sold) to grab 4th place while Suzuki outsold Hyundai by 226 units to remain in the Magic 5.
Result: in January 2021, Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. sank to No. 6, a precarious position as 7th placer Honda Cars PH, Inc. (1,306 units sold) is only 24 units behind.

KIA RETURNS 
Aside from these changes in January 2021, Kia, distributed by Adventure Cycle PH, Inc., sold more vehicles (376) than Geely (339 units sold) and Foton (177 units sold) to return to the Top 10 and to 8th place, at that. 
Sojitz G Auto PH (SGAP), the distributor of Geely, ascended from year-end 2020’s 10th spot to replace Foton Motor PH, Inc. at 9th.  SGAP’s aggressive marketing campaign has succeeded in fast-tracking Geely into the Top 10.
The YTD January 2021 results make the two Chinese brands the cellar dwellers, but the other brands better watch out because Geely and Foton have nowhere to go but up.
CHALLENGES
Meanwhile, CAMPI president Rommel Gutierrez, who is concurrently 1st vice president of TMP, said that although the industry started the year with a decent sales figure of 23,380 units, he remains cautiously optimistic about the coming months.  The joint CAMPI-TMA YTD January 2021 report shows a 15% decrease versus December’s sales performance.
“The pandemic still poses a challenge to the automotive industry,” Gutierrez said in a press release.  “We are also monitoring how the market will react with the imposition of the provisional safeguard duties starting February, which could potentially impact on the prices of imported motor vehicles.”
The provisional safeguard duties on imported vehicles aren’t the only thing the industry has to worry about.  A draft bill called “No Garage, No Car Act of 2021” is pending in Congress that declares “to curb the number of private vehicles” as one of its objectives, and that would fine car distributors and dealers P200,000 for violating any of its 

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