By Aida Sevilla-Mendoza

Welcome news from the automotive industry: the Philippine Automotive Dealers Association (PADA) reported that 131,319 vehicles were sold year-to-date in May, up from 104,196 sold YTD last April.

At the same time, the joint report of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) showed YTD May total sales of 126,273 units, a 14.6% growth versus the same period in 2021.

CAMPI added that total vehicle sales for May 2022 reached 26,370 units, equivalent to 19.5% growth compared with 22,062 units recorded in May last year.

CAMPI president Rommel Gutierrez, who is concurrently 1st vice president of TMP, noted that based on their data, the industry has already recorded double-digit percentage growths for three consecutive months on a year-over-year basis, indicating that recovery is underway.

“The industry is optimistic for a sustained economic growth anchored on domestic demand and the continued containment of the pandemic — all important to the full recovery of the industry,” he said.

The biggest winner in the top 10 sales performers scoreboard (see graph based on the sales of all the industry players) was Toyota Motor PH Corp. (TMP), whose market share hit 50.01% YTD in May according to PADA, and as high as 52.00%, per CAMPI. PADA reported that in May alone, TMP sold 14,723 units, representing 54.28% market share.

Among all the car brands, TMP has most strongly withstood the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. As early as September 2020, TMP had returned to two-shift production operations and by November 2021, TMP’s sales had risen to within 80% of pre-pandemic levels, according to GT Capital Auto & Mobility Holdings Chairman/TMP Director & Board Member Vince Socco.

The abundance of models – 41 in all – offered by TMP is key to the company’s enduring success.

TMP offers nine hatchbacks and sedans, 10 crossovers and SUVs, two MPVs, nine vans and pickup trucks, eight hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and three specialty cars (a.k.a. sports/ high performance cars.) Plus 72 Toyota dealerships nationwide.

Meanwhile, PADA’s rankings of the Top 10 this May remained the same as last April in this order: Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Suzuki, Ford, Isuzu, Honda, Geely, Others (brands not identified by PADA) and Kia (see graph.)

In May, Isuzu (1,301 units sold) and Honda (1,146 sold) outperformed Ford (925) but the year-to-date grand total of the American brand (6,950) kept its No. 5 perch secure. The YTD May total sales of Isuzu was 6,554 while Honda’s was 6,059.

Sojitz G Auto PH (SGAP), the local distributor of Geely motor vehicles, is a member of the Association of Vehicles Importers and Distributors (AVID), so its sales reports are not included in CAMPI’s monthly total vehicle sales report. Excluding Geely, CAMPI’s Top 10 YTD May 2022 are composed of the following automotive brands in this order: Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Suzuki, Ford, Isuzu, Honda, Kia, Foton and Mazda.

CAMPI reported the same sales figures as PADA for all the brands in its Top 10 list except Foton Motor PH and Mazda (Bermaz Auto PH, Inc.) which did not make it to the Top 10 PADA list. Foton sold 1,396 units YTD May and Mazda, 637 units, according to CAMPI.

Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI), another AVID member, used to make it to the consolidated Top 10 list of CAMPI and AVID, but slid from No. 3 in 2019 and finally to No. 8 in 2021 before dropping out of the honor roll altogether.

But the Korean brand is staging a comeback via the creation of a new company, Hyundai Motor Philippines (HMPH), that will be formally launched before the end of the year, with Lee Dong Wook as the president. At an exclusive press conference, Lee revealed that HMPH will bring in the newest iterations of the Tucson, Santa Fe, Palisade, Creta, and Staria, Hyundai’s new flagship van replacing the Starex. HARI will continue as the distributor of Hyundai trucks and buses.

Now, as July approaches, some industry players may be concerned that the high inflation rate and endlessly rising petroleum prices will dampen consumer confidence, particularly in the demand for big ticket items like cars. Just like in 2018, when the industry was clobbered by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law increasing the excise tax on new vehicle sales starting in January, plus the inflation rate soaring to 6.7% in September. Currently, the threat of a shortage in food supply by the end of the year does not help any.

But considering the encouraging YTD May sales reports of PADA and CAMPI, it looks like the industry will hit its 336,000 sales target for 2022 despite the challenges looming overhead.