New vehicle sales in the Philippines continued to fall sharply in July 2020, by over 35% to 20,542 units from 31,810 units 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 do 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 COVID19 pandemic, with the government forced to introduce strict lockdowns in mid-March to slow the spread of the virus. The country's GDP plunged by a record 16.5% year-on-year in the second quarter as a result, as consumers retrenched and exports plunged.

While the Philippine 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 forced the government to re-impose social restrictions in some regions, including Metro Manila, quashing any hope of a quick economic rebound.

In the first seven months of the year the vehicle market shrank by 48.7% to 105,583 units from 205,945 vehicles in the same period last year, with passenger cars sales falling by 51.4% to 30,069 from 61,815 units, while commercial vehicle sales were down by 47.6% at 75,514 from 144,130 units.

CAMPI president Rommel Gutierrez pointed out that the association now expects the Philippine vehicle market, including imports, to decline by over 40% from last year's 410,000 units, adding "this volume reduction can have serious operational and financial impact on the automotive industry. We have submitted some recommendations for industry support, which are now under study by the Department of Trade and Industry".