The Philippine new vehicle market continued to decline in January 2019, by 15% to 26,888 units from 31,645 units in the same month of last year, according to wholesale data released jointly by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA).

The data do not include non-affiliated brands, including Hyundai, Chevrolet and Subaru, which together accounted for around 12% of the total market last year.

Last month's decline follows a 16% sales drop to 357,410 units in 2018, according to the CAMPI/TMA data, despite reasonably buoyant economic growth in the country of 6.2%. The automotive industry has blamed an overhaul of the country's taxation system at the beginning of last year for the decline, although market saturation was no doubt a key factor after four years of very strong growth.

Passenger car sales fell by over 13% to 8,487 units in January from 9,790 units a year earlier, while commercial vehicle sales fell almost 16% to 18,401 units from 21,855 units. Toyota claimed a market share of 42.2% last month, followed by Mitsubishi with 19.5%, Nissan 11.5%, Honda 7.2% and Ford 6.7%.

CAMPI expects the market to recover this year, based on continued strong economic growth and the expectation that consumers would have already adjusted to the higher taxes last year.

Separately Hyundai distributor Hyundai Asia Resources Inc (HARI) reported a 5% drop in sales in January to 2,758 units.