New vehicle sales in the Philippines continued to fall sharply in August 2020, by almost 40% to 17,906 units from 29,599 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 is one of the countries in Asia hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with GDP plunging by a record 16.5% year on year in the second quarter as domestic consumption plunged following strict lockdowns imposed in many parts of the country in March and as exports also plunged.

While the government began to lift some of the restrictions on businesses in May, most social restrictions remained in place until June. Since then new spikes in infections have led to renewed social restrictions in some regions, including Metro Manila, quashing any hope of a quick economic rebound.

In the first eight months of the year, the vehicle market shrank by 47.6% year on year to 123,489 units from 235,544 in the same period of last year, with passenger car sales falling almost 50% to 35,523 while commercial vehicle sales were down by 46.7% at 87,966.

CAMPI and TMA expect their members to sell around 240,000 vehicles combined in the Philippines this year, with CAMPI president Gutierrez pointing out the industry is turning to increasingly aggressive sales promotions to achieve their revised targets.