New vehicle sales in the Philippines continued to fall sharply in October 2020, by over 27% to 25,023 units from 34,397 units in the same month of last year, 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 data did not include non-affiliated brands such as Hyundai, Kia, GM and Subaru, which together accounted for around 11% of the total vehicle market last year.

The Philippines was one of the countries in Asia worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with GDP continuing to decline sharply in the third quarter - by 11.5% year on year following an almost 17% contraction in the second quarter. This economic performance was far worse than market expectations, with the pandemic continuing to limit business and consumer activity throughout the quarter.

In the first 10 months of the year, the vehicle market shrank by almost 43% to 173,035 units from 301,761 units in the same period of last year, with passenger car sales also falling by 41% to 53,067 units while commercial vehicle sales were down by 43% at 119,968 units.

CAMPI president Rommel Gutierrez said he still expected combined sales by the member companies of the two associations could still reach 240,000 vehicles this year as projected earlier in the year, with the industry turning to increasingly to aggressive sales promotions. 

But Gutierrez warned against government plans to introduce import tariffs, as most CAMPI members sold both imports and locally assembled models.