Automakers see 20% sales drop this year

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines —  Vehicle sales are expected to decline by a fifth this year as the lockdown imposed by government as part of efforts to combat the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic has affected operations of automotive firms, the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) said.

CAMPI president Rommel Gutierrez said in a text message yesterday the group expects total automotive industry sales to drop “at least 20 percent” this year.

Earlier, Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors Inc. (AVID) president Ma. Fe Perez - Agudo said the group expects total vehicle sales to decline by 40 percent this year.

Total automotive sales covering vehicles sold by both CAMPI and AVID reached more than 410,000 units last year.

Automotive firms had to close dealerships during the enhanced community quarantine imposed by the government to quell the spread of COVID-19.

The quarantine, which limited establishments allowed to operate to those providing essential products and services, started on March 17 in Metro Manila and would be in place until tomorrow (May 15).

After tomorrow, Metro Manila, Laguna and Cebu would be under modified quarantine until May 31.

Guidelines released on establishments allowed under the modified quarantine showed wholesale and retail trade as well as repair of motor vehicles can partially operate with 50 percent workforce on site.

Automotive dealerships in areas under the general community quarantine have resumed operations, while implementing health and safety protocols to protect both employees and customers from COVID-19.

Precautionary measures being implemented in automotive dealerships include temperature checks, disinfection of facilities, and catering to confirmed service appointments.

With no end in sight in the fight against the pandemic, CAMPI may put off its motor show this year.

“No decision yet. Most likely not,” Gutierrez said when asked if CAMPI would push through with the Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) this year.

Held every other year, PIMS is a platform for CAMPI members to unveil new model units.

A unit of Fitch Group said earlier the Philippines is among countries in Southeast Asia to be hit hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak in terms of vehicle sales.

Apart from the lockdown, the Fitch unit said the health crisis is seen to lead to weaker demand for vehicles as consumers prioritize essential goods.

At the start of the year, CAMPI’s sales were also affected by the Taal Volcano eruption which forced members to temporarily suspend operations of plants and some dealerships in South Luzon.

As of February, CAMPI sold 53,513 units, slightly higher than the 53,215 units in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, AVID’s sales were down 34 percent to 14,404 units in the first quarter from 21,949 units in the same period a year ago.

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