Pandemic Honor Roll: 10 bestselling car brands of 2020

The year 2020 will forever go down in history as the coronavirus-stricken year that put the world at a halt – economically, socially, and, of course, health-wise.

But despite the challenges of the pandemic and the subsequent strict quarantine rules, the Philippine automotive industry soldiered on. The numbers are in, and while the industry didn’t hit its target for obvious reasons, car companies still delivered through quick-witted strategies and notable releases.

The Philippine automotive industry recorded a 40.4% sales decline in 2020 – 244,617 units delivered versus 2019’s 410,187 units. Of note, the ranking of car brands was unfazed in 2020, with the exception of Foton, which took the 10th spot from Kia.

With that said, which are the 10 bestselling car brands in the Philippines in 2020? Here’s a rundown. 

10. Foton

Under the United Asia Automotive Group, Inc. (UAAGI), Foton Philippines starts our countdown by clinching the 10th spot. Recording 2,456 units delivered in 2020, Foton’s line of commercial vehicles and some passenger units represents 1% of the market, despite recording a 42.79 percent decline from 2019 numbers.

9. MG

While The Covenant Car Company, Inc. (TCCCI), the official distributor of MG cars, didn’t report its official 2020 numbers to AVID, the Chinese-sourced British-branded cars evidently sold well last year.

Fortunately, MG Philippines provided us its numbers: 3,432 units – enough for the brand to represent 1.4% of the local market and to clinch the ninth spot last year. That number is split between passenger cars (36%) and SUVs (64%). Of note, the MG 5 subcompact sedan and MG 6 fastback are under the passenger cars category, while the MG ZS and RX5 are both listed under SUVs.

8. Isuzu

Isuzu Philippines soared over the tenth and ninth bestsellers in 2020, moving 11,240 units with its diesel-powered lineup. This number represents 4.59% of the market – not surprising at all, considering the popularity of the D-Max and mu-X utility vehicles.

For 2021, expect the new D-Max and mu-X to arrive in the country. Will these models allow Isuzu Philippines to climb further into the list by the end of this year?

7. Honda Cars

Representing 4.79% of the units sold in 2020, Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) took the seventh spot. The Japanese company moved 11,711 Honda vehicles last year. Unfortunately, this represents a 42.42% sales decline for the company when compared to its numbers from 2019.

6. Ford

Ford Philippines retains its sixth spot for 2020, moving 14,775 vehicles that represent 6.04% of the market. Just like Honda, the Blue Oval recorded a huge hit from the pandemic, reporting a 32.53% sales decline from 2019.

Though we still don’t have Ford’s breakdown of sales per vehicle, we suspect that the Territory has played a huge part, considering its population on the road. 

5. Suzuki

Suzuki was among the first car companies to launch a vehicle during the lockdown in the form of the S-Presso and XL7. Despite that, the company was still able to deliver 15,515 units in 2020, representing 6.34% of the market. More importantly, it looks like the price and the quirkiness were attractive enough for Filipino buyers as the Japanese company reported that the small hatchback entered its three top-selling cars for 2020.

4. Hyundai

Despite being quiet in the course of 2020, Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI) took the fourth spot, moving a total of 16,346 units. This, however, represents a 50% sales decline when compared to the company’s numbers in 2019.

It’s important to note that HARI has focused on its commercial vehicles, as well as the introduction of the new Venue subcompact crossover late in the year.

3. Nissan

Just like Hyundai, Nissan Philippines was relatively quiet in 2020 by not launching a new vehicle into the market. The Japanese marque did work on its online channels and promotions, though, which could have helped the company to sell 21,751 units, representing 8.89% of the market.

The Navara and Terra utility vehicles will most likely top Nissan’s bestsellers, but we have yet to receive their unit breakdown to confirm this assumption.

2. Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) also worked on its promotions for 2020, allowing it to capture 15.28% of the market by selling 37,366 vehicles.

MMPC launched a new range-topper, the Xpander Cross, to its Xpander range, but the Mirage G4 seems to be a runaway winner as Mitsubishi’s local bestseller.

1. Toyota

Toyota has been the Philippines’ number one car brand in terms of sale for several years now, and that didn’t change despite the challenges of the pandemic. However, the company reported a huge sales decline, moving only 99,545 units in 2020 – a 38.32% decrease from the 161,385 units sold in 2019.

Of note, Toyota is one of the most aggressive car company in 2020 in terms of online vehicle launches, bringing in newer versions of the Wigo, Vios, Fortuner, and Hilux, while also launching an all-new model in the form of the Corolla Cross.

Special Mention: Geely

While Geely Philippines didn’t clinch a spot in the country’s top 10, the Chinese marque reported a notable performance enabling it to take the 11th spot. Despite only having a few dealerships in 2020 (six, to be exact, with the latest one only opening in December), Geely sold 2,158 units last year – most of them the critically-acclaimed Geel Coolray subcompact crossover.

Online strategies paid off

Needless to say, the numbers from last year weren’t stellar, but it could have been worse. Thanks to strategies employed by the brands during the pandemic, and the loosening of the quarantine measures towards the second half of the year, the industry recovered to some extent.

Notable of these strategies was the optimization of the online channels. We’ve seen several improvements from the companies in terms of their online selling platforms, particularly adding lead generation functions and more complete, user-friendly vehicle information.

Online car launches have become prevalent as well. Brands have shown their muscle in the use of technology, which helped disseminate information to the public via the internet. Ford Philippines was the first to take the plunge in this regard with the launch of the Ford Everest Sport.

Kia Philippines, through its president Manny Aligada, also noted during a recent media discussion that it had to hasten its strategy towards online channels, reflecting what the situation permitted during the economic and mobility storm.

We can only hope for the best in 2021 as the current pandemic isn’t showing signs of drifting away. But with the major automotive players looking to have built a foundation on this regard, we won’t be surprised if a positive trend begins this year.

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