April 2021 sales numbers are in. After combing through the figures – from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI), Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA), and Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID) – car brands in the country seem to have played a round of musical chairs in terms of sales ranking after the first four months of this year.
Of course, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) still sit tightly at the first and second spots, respectively, but the story has changed thereafter.
While Q1 2021 ended with Nissan Philippines, Inc. (NPI) taking the third spot, its dangerously close proximity from Ford Group Philippines, Inc. (FGPI) and Suzuki Philippines, Inc. (SPI) proved to be concerning for NPI as the end of the following month saw a complete takeover from both.
Year-to-date sales numbers show FGPI selling a total of 6,562 units while SPI moved 6,390 vehicles, putting the Blue Oval at the third spot and the compact car pioneer at fourth.
On the other hand, NPI closed April 2021’s top five by delivering 6,221 units, giving up the podium but not by a huge margin.
Of note, the last time Ford Philippines held the third spot in sales rankings was in January 2018 or over three years ago. To recall, FGPI enjoyed a record-breaking conclusion in 2017, coming from the popularity of the T6 platform combo, the Ford Ranger and Everest.
Unfortunately, the first phase of TRAIN Law affected the company badly in terms of pricing, which resulted in a 36 percent sales plummet at the end of 2018.
The introduction of the Ford Territory in the automaker’s local lineup last year, as well as the refreshed Everest and Ranger lineups this year, evidently worked their way in bringing the company back to the position it once held proudly.
Three is truly a charm for the Blue Oval, but the rankings are just the tip of the iceberg the auto industry ship is facing head-on.
A bleak opportune
While the previous citation sounded like good news for FGPl, we’d be remiss not to say that the bleak spark of hope from Q1 2021 continues to fade, month-over-month.
March 2021 already saw a slight dip in terms of auto sales from February, with AVID reporting a 4 percent decline and CAMPI/TMA noting a 21.1 percent drop. The following month wasn’t a great follow-up either as AVID again reported a 13 percent decline, while CAMPI/TMA recorded a 13.8 percent decrease – both when compared with their March 2021 numbers.
The reimposition of stricter quarantine measures in NCR Plus (Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal) remains to be the biggest challenge for these auto-sellers, along with tighter auto loan approvals from banks, as CAMPI president Rommel Gutierrez cited.
The provisional safeguard tariff on imported vehicles also works to the industry’s disadvantage, impacting prices and consequently affecting demand.
Is a win a win?
Despite the downward trend in month-over-month sales, year-over-year figures are more encouraging as the auto industry reports a massive recovery.
Of note, January to April 2021 sales numbers have increased by 36 percent when compared to the same period last year.
AVID president Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo sees these numbers as encouraging, while CAMPI visualizes the positive comparison as a step in the right direction.
Then again, let’s not all forget that April 2020 was one of the most harrowing months for the auto industry ever. CAMPI and TMA moved only 133 units that month, while AVID merely sold 18 units – a very evident and unfortunate effect of the current coronavirus pandemic.