Philippine new vehicle sales rose 23% to 38,072 units in February 2024 from 30,905 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).

Sales continued to grow strongly since the initial recovery from the pandemic in 2021 with volume last year rising 22% to 429,807 units despite the central bank hiking its benchmark interest rate from 2% to 6.5% in the last two years.

The market continued to be driven by strong economic growth with annual GDP growth coming in at 5.6% in the fourth quarter of 2023 underpinned by strong household consumption and private investment.

In the first two months of 2024 the market expanded 19% to 72,132 units from 60,404 units in the same period of last year, driven by strong demand for pickup trucks.

Toyota reported a 19% increase in sales to 33,568 units followed by Mitsubishi with 13,090 units (+23%); Ford 5,208 (+25%); Nissan 5,166 (+46%); Suzuki 3,046 (+4%).

Earlier this year, Campi president Rommel Gutierrez said he expected the market to grow 9% to a record 468,300 vehicles this year. This week he said “improved inventories and stable interest rates continue to boost customer confidence”.

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The government has offered 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 PHP500,000 and discounts of up to 30% on the annual road tax.

Toyota plans to begin production of a new Tamaraw utility vehicle in the third quarter of 2024 with deliveries to follow in Q4. The model was expected to be a passenger version of the Rangga concept and would be based on the latest IMV-0 platform used by the Hilux pickup and Innova MPV. The previous model was widely used by government departments, utility companies and small businesses.