Sales of imported cars slightly pick up in February
Cars occupy a large part of the road on this photo showing heavy traffic on the northbound lane of EDSA-Cubao's underpass.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

Sales of imported cars slightly pick up in February

Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - March 24, 2021 - 5:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — Car importers saw their sales slightly go up month-on-month in February, with the industry banking on further economic reopening to sustain a delicate rebound amid headwinds from hefty shipment duties.

What's new

A total of 5,401 imported cars were sold in February, up 3% from the preceding month, data released Wednesday by the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors Inc. (AVID), an industry group, showed.

But on a year-on-year basis, car sales plummeted 15%. In the first 2 months of 2021, car importers sold 10,663 units, still down 10% from year-ago levels.

Why this matters

Vehicle sales are often used as an indicator of economic health. This is because consumer spending historically makes up 70% of gross domestic product so any purchases of big-ticket items like cars are big contributors to economic activity.

Apart from the coronavirus pandemic sapping demand for vehicles, the government's decision to slap safeguard duties on imported automobiles likewise have a dampening effect on demand since tariffs may be passed on to buyers through higher prices. Even car manufacturers, who have their own group, are hurting, with their February sales earlier reported down 12% year-on-year despite a bigger 12.2% nudge month-on-month.

Over 70% of cars sold in the Philippines are already imported from countries like Thailand and Japan.

What VIPs say

With struggles from last year appearing to be more lasting, AVID President Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo is banking on further relaxation of coronavirus curbs to perk up car demand, a projection that has grown unlikely in recent days due to a fresh spike in infections.

“While we acknowledge that recovery will not come quickly, we remain focused on taking ‘baby steps’ at all fronts of our respective businesses and count on government to heed our call for a more comprehensive, long-term approach to reopening the economy by creating more job opportunities, upgrading infrastructure and logistics, and improving the ease and cost of doing business,” she was quoted as saying in a statement.

Other figures

  • In February, passenger cars sold went up 12% month-on-month to 1,518 units, which was nevertheless down 23% year-on-year. That brought the January to February tally to 2,868 units, down 19% compared to same period a year ago.
  • On the flip side, light commercial vehicles sales dipped 2% month-on-month to 3,728 units, with a bigger 13% slump registered on an annual basis. Year-to-date, sales under this segment fell 9% on-year to 7,522 units.

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