New vehicle sales in the Philippines continued to rebound strongly in June 2021, by close to 45% to 22,550 units from depressed year-earlier sales of 15,578 units, according to member wholesale data released jointly by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA).

The vehicle market fell sharply in the second quarter of last year after the government imposed strict lockdown orders nationwide to help slow the initial spread of the coronavirus.

While the market rebound in the last few months is encouraging, volume remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

GDP continued to contract in the first quarter of 2021, by a worse-than-expected 4.2%, with consumer and business sentiment affected by a resurgence of COVID-19 infections and the slow rollout of vaccines in the country.

This was the fifth consecutive quarter of economic decline, after GDP shrank by 9.5% last year as private consumption and investment plunged.

The associations’ data showed vehicle sales rebounded by over 56% to 132,767 units in the first half of 2021 from 85,041 units in the same period of last year, with passenger vehicle sales surging up by over 77% to 42,406 units and commercial vehicle sales up by almost 48% at 90,361 units.

That did not include data from members of the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID) which reported a 59% sales rise to 25,217 units in the first five months of 2021.

CAMPI president Rommel Gutierrez said this was a better than expected outcome given the lacklustre consumer demand for big-ticket items in the second quarter. He added “the auto industry continues to adjust to the effects of the pandemic, while also striving to strike a balance between its contributions to the economy and keeping its stakeholders safe and healthy during these unprecedented times”.

CAMPI and the TMA forecast the market to expand by 30% in 2021 after their members reported a 40% combined sales decline to 223,793 units in 2020.

The government has set a target for 10% of registered vehicles in the Philippines to be battery-powered by 2040. With production of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles expected to cease in most major economies by 2035, the country will have no choice but to follow the global trend.
Patrick Aquino, director of the Department of Energy’s Energy Utilization Management Bureau (EUMB), earlier this month confirmed “the government is very much committed to make EVs mainstream sooner rather than later”.