New vehicle sales in the Philippines jumped by over 33% to 45,494 units in December from 34,104 units in the same month of the previous year, according to member data released jointly by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines and Truck Manufacturers Association.

The vehicle market hit new record highs throughout last year amid strong economic growth with the latest data showing GDP expanded by 6.9% in the third quarter on strong domestic consumption, investment and exports.

Buyers also flocked to showrooms in the final months of last year in anticipation of excise tax hikes at the beginning of 2018 which are part of a broader central government tax reform programme. Vehicle prices were expected to rise significantly in January as a result of these changes.

The associations' members sold a total of 425,673 vehicles in the country last year, up from 359,572 units in 2016. Passenger vehicle sales increased 4.7% to 139,424 units last year, while commercial vehicle sales were up by over 26% at 286,249 units.

This does not include some significant brands, such as Hyundai, Chevrolet and Subaru.

Toyota sold an estimated 183,891 vehicles in the country last year, based on market share data released by the associations, followed by Mitsubishi with 73,599 units; Ford 36,610 units; Honda 31,755 units; and Isuzu 30,095 units.

The industry does not expect the market to grow significantly this year because of the sales tax hikes.

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