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PH on course to breach 200,000-unit mark

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Rommel Gutierrez: Looking far ahead

Three major developments are making the Philippine automotive industry abuzz with excitement. One is about the country’s most popular vehicle, the Toyota Vios, which now has a third-generation model available in the market. Two is the big sales that two Japanese car manufacturers are registering via the Innova and Fortuner of Toyota, and Mitsubishi’s Montero Sport and Mirage models. And three, the entry of relatively new players in the market, which are expanding their lineup with new and flashy models.

So who wouldn’t get all revved up when these three factors could translate to the country’s total vehicle sales reaching an all-time high, topping the 156,649 units sold in 2012?

Amid all the excitement and enthusiasm is the fact that the Philippines is currently relishing a strong economic momentum. It should be remembered that in May, the National Statistical Coordination Board announced that the country’s first-quarter gross domestic product rose 7.8 percent from the same period last year—outpacing its larger neighbors in Asia like China (7.7 percent), Indonesia (6 percent), Thailand (5.3 percent) and Vietnam (4.9 percent).

Such economic gains are boosting consumer confidence, which as a result, allows more Filipinos to spend a bit more. Indicative of such improving individual buying capacity, the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (Campi) recently reported a 2-percent increase in share of the passenger car market as 28,035 passenger cars got sold in the first six months of 2013.

“Overall, the private sector has shown an increase in confidence in the way the country is being managed. For the manufacturing sector in particular, the recent pronouncement by the Department of Trade and Industry of the launching of the industry road maps is a clear recognition of the importance of manufacturing. This for us is a very encouraging sign that should prod more direct investments into the country. Looking at the larger picture, Campi expects the industry to cross the 200,000 sales mark for the first time this year,” said Campi president, lawyer Rommel Gutierrez.

Still higher

And even while the commercial vehicles’ share in the overall sales slightly dipped from 70 percent to 68 percent in the first six months (59,191 units sold), this figure is still 16 percent higher than what was posted in the same period last year.

In total, the industry was able to sell 87,226 units in the first six months, a 20-percent improvement from the 72,871 units posted in the same period last year, according to a joint report of Campi and the Truck Manufacturers Association.

“Indeed, the industry has seen unprecedented growth in sales during the first half of 2013. With per capita gross domestic product reaching $2,500, we can say that the country is already at the threshold of motorization. The fact that new and high-end distributors are entering the market is an obvious indication that the rest of the automotive sector is now recognizing the country’s growth potential,” said Gutierrez, obviously referring to the recent entry of ultraluxury marques Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Morgan.

The motorization rate is defined as the number of passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants. Commonly used to indicate a country’s economic development, a high motorization rate corresponds with a high level of economic development and quality of life.

School opening

While Campi noted a slight dip in sales in the month of June—sales fell 10 percent from 15,859 units in May to 14,239 units in June (although this figure is still 4 percent higher than the 13,697 units posted in June 2012)—Gutierrez said this may be attributed to the fact that a number of households dedicated their June budget to school opening expenses.

“Besides, a number of buyers have intentionally delayed their purchases as they wait for the arrival of new models as well as exciting promos that automakers will offer,” he said.

Moreover, Campi acknowledged that buyers may be looking forward to the latest models that its newest members, the Eurobrands Distributor Inc., which sells Peugeot brand of vehicles, and Berjaya Auto Philippines Inc., the new caretaker of the Mazda brand in the country, will dish out in the coming weeks or months.

Phenomenal growth

While still awaiting the arrival of the Mirage G4 subcompact sedan that would further expand Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp.’s (MMPC) offering in the passenger car segment, the company reported its phenomenal 811.2-percent growth in the said segment.

From mere 498 passenger car models it sold from January to June 2012, MMPC was able to sell 4,538 units in the first six months of 2013.

“With the strong demand and wide market acceptance for the Mirage and Lancer EX 1.6, MMPC was able to re-establish its presence in the passenger cars segment. In fact, the Mirage is now the country’s third bestselling model for the first half of the year, as well as the top selling car for the month of June,”  MMPC vice president for Mmarketing services Froilan Dytianquin reported.

Best-selling models

The Mirage now joins the Montero Sport as MMPC’s best-selling models. From January to June 2013, MMPC was able to sell 7,497 units of the Montero Sport, making the midsize SUV the country’s second best-selling vehicle among all categories and models (the current Toyota Vios, with 7,566 units sold in the same period, remained the country’s most favorite ride).

With 21,282 units sold in the first six months, MMPC remained the country’s second best-selling automotive company with a 24.4-percent market share.

Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. remained the country’s most dominant player with a nearly 40-percent market share after selling 34,713 units from January to June 2013.

While not a member of Campi, Hyundai Asia Resources Inc., which distributes the Hyundai brand of vehicles in the Philippines, is regarded as the third best-performing automotive company in the country, after it sold 10,992 units in the first six months of 2013.

Trying to close the gap is Campi member Honda Cars Philippines Inc., which sold 7,337 units (8.4-percent market share) in the first six months of 2013.

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