Increase of automobile sales slows in January

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AUTOMOBILE SALES grew at a markedly slower pace in January — the month higher tax rates took effect — as less passenger cars were sold compared to a year ago, according to data released on Monday by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and by the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA).

The joint CAMPI-TMA report showed automobile sales — covering passenger cars and commercial vehicles — increased by just four percent to 31,645 units from 30,425 in January 2017.

January 2018 sales were also a third less than December 2017’s 45,494 units.

“We started the year with a modest growth of four percent in January 2018 against the same period last year,” Rommel R. Gutierrez, CAMPI president and Toyota Motor Philippines first vice-president, said in a statement.

“While this is considerably low compared to the growth rate of January 2017 (27% up versus January 2016), we still consider January 2018 sales as satisfactory and a good start for the auto industry.”

Last month saw Republic Act No. 10963 — or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act that increased taxes on automobiles, fuel, minerals, various investment products, and a host of other items, besides imposing new levies on sugar-sweetened drinks and others — take effect.

Passenger car sales dropped by 10.9% to 9,790 in January — accounting for 30.94% of total sales that month — from 10,984 in the same month last year, and by 31% from December’s 14,182.

In contrast, commercial vehicle sales partly made up from the drop in passenger car deliveries, increasing by 12.4% to 21,855 last month — making up 69.06% of the total — from 19,441 units a year ago. Compared to December’s 31,312 units, however, January sales were down 30.2%.

Under the commercial vehicle category, sales of:

• Asian utility vehicles — which made up 26.59% of commercial vehicle sales in January — slipped by 3.6% to 5,811 units last month from 6,026 in January last year and by 10.2% from December 2017’s 6,472;

• light commercial vehicles — which accounted for 69.63% — increased by 23.3% to 15,218 units from 12,340 in January last year, although they were down by 35.1% from December 2017’s 23,434.

Toyota topped other car firms last month, accounting for 41.77% of total sales with 13,217 vehicles sold, though this total was 9.1% less than the year-ago 14,542 and 23.6% less than the 17,307 units it sold in December.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. ranked second with 6,757 units sold that contributed 21.35% to the total last month, a 36.7% increase from the year-ago 4,942 vehicles but still 1.9% lower than December’s 6,886 vehicles sold.

Ford Motor Company Philippines, Inc. was third with an 8.65% share of 2,737, 8.7% more than the 2,519 vehicles sold in January last year but still dropping 40.9% from December 2017’s 4,629.

CAMPI and TMA sold 425,673 vehicles last year, 18.4% more than the 359,572 units they sold in 2016. Last year’s increase was slower than the 24.6% expansion clocked for the entire 2016, as well as the 22.9% and 29.5% increases logged in 2015 and 2014, respectively.

Automobile deliveries in December alone increased by 33.4% year-on-year to 45,494 units.