Auto firms report ‘record-breaking’ sales

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By Kap Maceda Aguila

IT came as no surprise when the consolidated vehicle sales report released on Jan. 11 by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) — an industry association of 14 brands — and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) revealed that deliveries grew by 18.4% in 2017, or 66,101 units more than the 359,572-unit total for the 12 months of 2016.

The 425,673 vehicles sold by CAMPI and TMA member companies in 2017 “exceeded the groups’ target of 400,500 units, and nearly [hit] the whole industry target of 450,000 units,” according to a statement released by the associations.

It must be noted that another industry group, the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID) — composed of 17 companies representing 26 brands — at press time has not released its own figures. But Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI), the group’s biggest seller, has reported sales of 37,678 vehicles in 2017.

Notwithstanding the projections of CAMPI and TMA, many industry observers had already anticipated a swell in vehicle sales owing to the 2018 implementation of Republic Act No. 10963, or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), which revises taxes imposed on new vehicles. Though watered down from a more extreme tariff scheme that would have resulted in drastic rises in retail costs, TRAIN still had the net effect — in most cases — of increasing the prices of vehicles owing to a restructured excise-tax schedule.

“[In] December 2017 alone, the group sold 45,494 units with 33.4% growth from 34,104 [units] during the same month in 2016,” continued the CAMPI statement. This reflects the observations that a significant number of people scrambled to make last-minute vehicle purchases before the advent of the new year.

Interestingly, last year’s numbers actually represented a slowdown in domestic auto sales growth. A previous BusinessWorld article revealed the uptick in vehicle sales were pegged at 29.5%, 22.9% and 24.6% for 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively. Last year’s 18.4% increase only outpaced the 2012 (11%) and 2013 (16%) rate since the double-digit spurt started.

“We ended 2017 with a positive note. Aggressive promos, new model updates and the hard work of members helped contribute to expanding the Philippine market,” said Rommel R. Gutierrez, CAMPI president and also a first vice-president at Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP).

Sales of commercial vehicles (comprised of Asian utility vehicles, light commercial vehicles, light trucks, trucks and buses) surged 26.4% from 226,384 units in 2016 to 286,249 units last year. In comparison, total passenger car sales in 2017 grew by 4.7% from 133,188 to 139,424

Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Philippines achieved its 16th consecutive triple crown — topping total, passenger car, and commercial vehicle sales in the domestic market. Moving 183,908 units represented a growth of 15.9% over 2016’s figure of 158,728. TMP cornered a hefty 43.2% of the local market in 2017.

Toyota was followed by Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation, which secured a 17.29% share (73,590 units), and Ford Motor Company Philippines, which took in 8.6% (36,623 units). Rounding out the top five were Honda Cars Philippines with 7.46% (31,758 units), and Isuzu Philippines Corp. with 7.07% (30,086 units).

TMP’s top-selling passenger car in 2017 was the Vios (36,734 sold), followed by the Wigo with 19,295 units. Still, the Fortuner — officially classified a commercial vehicle — actually outsold the Vios with 39,680 units.

While the growth rate of sales has slowed down compared to that in 2016, a number of companies have reported achieving best-ever sales figures last year. Ford Philippines called it a “record year” with an “all-time best monthly performance.” December 2017 sales for the company registered an increase of 45% year on year to 4,629 vehicles — driven by sales of the Everest, EcoSport and Ranger. Consolidated sales revealed a “fifth consecutive year of record sales with 2017 retail sales rising 9% from the prior year to 36,623 vehicles… [with] the Everest [remaining as] Ford’s top-seller in the Philippines in 2017 with full-year sales rising slightly from the prior year to 12,455 vehicles. This included Everest’s all-time best month in December with sales increasing 48% year over year to 1,582 vehicles.”

It was the same kind of story coming out of Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI). In a statement, HCPI reported it had “continued its growth with record-breaking sales results for the calendar year of 2017… [with] 31,758 vehicles, up by 37% compared to 2016 with 23,199 vehicles.” The company added it “beat its own record by posting the highest sales results in the brand’s history in the Philippines” with 4,961 vehicles sold in December last year, or a 77% rise over the same month in 2016.

Helping drive HCPI’s numbers were the 9,430 deliveries of the City (the company’s best-selling model), sales of which grew 6%. Following it was the BR-V SUV, with 7,212 units sold. Still, the fastest pace was set by the Civic, increasing by 66% with 4,146 units sold.

Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC), which sold 30,086 units last year (growing 10% from the 2016 figure of 27,361), also recorded the company’s highest-ever sales performance in a calendar year and month. A total of 13,157 Isuzu Mu-X SUVs were sold, up 4% (from 12,657 units last year). In December, 1,997 Mu-X units were sold, up 27% from the month before. Additionally, 4,675 D-Max pickup trucks were sold from January to December, up 17.9% from the previous year.

IPC’s truck sales also recorded a healthy growth rate of 23% with 4,599 units sold in 2017, from 3,734 the year before. The company attributes much of the movement to its popular N-Series model.

Over at Bermaz Auto Philippines, Inc. (BAP), distributor of Mazda vehicles and parts in the country, “record sales numbers for the month of December and the full year of 2017” were also reported. A consolidated figure of 5,244 units “represents the company’s best sales year since taking over the Mazda distributorship five years ago… [with] the December 2017 sales registration of 1,006 cars, SUVs and trucks [seeing] best-ever monthly sales performance for the brand.”

BAP said nine months in 2017 saw the company’s highest on record since 2004, and that the Mazda2, Mazda6, CX-3, CX-5, CX-9 and MX-5 all logged their “best-ever sales year in 2017.”

HARI also posted an all-time-high 37,678 units in sales last year, representing a 12% hike over the company’s 33,695-unit total in 2016. The Hyundai Accent proved to be its strongest seller, moving 16,454 units while registering a 33% growth over 2016. With 1,963 units sold, the Elantra mustered a 20% gain over the previous year.

HARI’s light commercial vehicle segment tally notched a 23% gain in 2017 with sales of 1,963 units, compared to 1,631 units in 2016. The largest contributor to the segment’s sales remained to be the Grand Starex with 4,295 units sold in 2017, increasing 15%, or 562 units, from the previous year.

“The fastest growing unit in this segment is [the] H-100, which closed at 3,439 units for 2017 from 2,280 units last year. H-100 registered an enormous growth of 51%,” HARI said in a statement.

Despite last year’s sales performance, CAMPI maintained it assumes a “cautiously optimistic outlook for 2018.” Said Mr. Gutierrez: “CAMPI remains confident that the market will be able to adjust to the new auto excise tax in 2018.”