The Philippines new vehicle market expanded by over 15% to 34,060 units in January 2024 from 29,499 units a year earlier, according to member wholesale data released jointly by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA).

This followed a 22% increase to 429,807 units last year, as the market continued to rebound from the 2021 pandemic lows – despite the central bank hiking its benchmark interest rate from 2.0% to 6.5% in the last two years. Demand for vehicles continues to be underpinned by strong economic growth in the country, with annual GDP growth coming in at 5.6% in the fourth quarter of 2023 – driven by strong household consumption and private investment.

Passenger vehicle sales rose by 12.5% to 8,446 units last month, while commercial vehicle sales increased by 17% to 25,614 units – driven by strong demand for pickup trucks. Toyota reported a 20% increase in sales to 16,093 units; followed by Mitsubishi Motors with 6,085 units (21%); Ford 2,466 (+17%); Nissan 2,463 (+31%); Suzuki 1,485 (-9%).

Campi president Rommel Gutierrez told local reporters: “Our outlook for the industry remains positive. We forecast sales this year to rise by 9% to 468,300 vehicles”.

The Philippine government has put in place incentive packages to help establish a local EV industry, targeting passenger and commercial vehicles and also two-wheelers. The latest package announced in the fourth quarter of last year, called the Electric Vehicle Incentive Strategy (ELVIS), specifically targets the public utility vehicle (PUV) and public bus segments by offering buyers full exemption from excise taxes, purchase incentives of up to PHPO500,000 and discounts of up to 30% on the annual road tax.

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GAC Group is the latest Chinese automaker to target the Philippine market with the announcement last month that it plans to add six new MPV models to its line-up this year, including the M8 and M6 Pro models. BYD, currently the world’s largest EV manufacturer, launched the Atto 3 EV in November.