Vehicle sales over the last 12 months fell 41 percent, registering only 51,719 units sold in 2020 compared to the 87,169 vehicles in 2019, according to a report from the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors, Inc. (AVID), a 21-member group representing 26 global brands in the country.
Economic impact of the pandemic
The group attributed the significant dip in figures to the months-long lockdowns, limited economic activity, and weak consumer demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the passenger cars (PC) segment, 2020 sales waned to 46 percent in 2020 with only 16,588 units sold. Hyundai reported the most number of sales in this segment with a total of 8,464 units, followed by Suzuki that managed to sell 6,177 units and Ford with 1,005 units.
In the Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV) category, a substantial decrease was recorded. Only 34,826 units sold in 2020, equivalent to a 38-percent drop compared to the same period in 2019. In this segment, Ford took the lead with 13,770 units sold, followed by Suzuki in second place with 9,338 units, and Hyundai with 7,882 units sold.
In the Commercial Vehicles (CV) segment, AVID recorded a total of 305 units sold for the 2020, or a 66 percent decline in sales compared to the 907 units sold in 2019.
“Automotive was among the hard hit sectors in this pandemic and we continue to feel the impact as sales, after-sales and auto-related services remain lackluster. Despite the hurdles, the industry quickly adapted to the new normal, survived, and are finally seeing some signs of revival. However, we see more headwinds in the coming months,” says AVID president Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo.
Challenges on the road to recovery
Though hampered by the pandemic, AVID is optimistic of a slow but steady recovery as vehicle sales rebounded, coming from the “most challenging period in PH automotive industry.” The industry finished strong towards the end of 2020 with 5,683 units sold in December, or a 15% increase versus the previous month.
In the meantime, vehicle importers and consumers will soon shell out more for their purchases under new tariff rules set by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
In a statement, the DTI announced that it will be imposing an additional P70,000 cash bond for imported PCs and P110,000 for imported LCVs to protect local metal manufacturers and car parts producers. The DTI order takes effect 15 days from publication.
In spite of this, AVID is hopeful and remains steadfast on the prospects of the Philippine auto industry.
“While the worst may be behind us, we still have a long way to go. If we are to restore consumer confidence and revive this sector, we should focus on creating more job opportunities, upgrade infrastructure and logistics, and improve the ease and cost of doing business. We are all for the long-term development of the auto industry in the new normal,” Agudo added.