Auto industry braces for safeguards impact

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    The automotive industry is bracing for the possible impact of the imposition of safeguard duties on imported sedans and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) on overall sales this month.

    This developed as vehicle sales in January dropped anew after an uptick in December.

    A joint report of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (Campi) and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) released yesterday showed vehicle sales last month fell 1.4 percent to 23,380 units from 23,723 units in January 2020.

    Rommel Gutierrez, Campi president, said the slight decrease is still considered a positive sign that the industry is slowly recovering.

    However, Gutierrez said Campi and TMA are also monitoring how the market will react with the imposition of the provisional safeguard duties starting February, which could potentially impact on the prices of imported motor vehicles.

    Imported sedans are imposed additional P70,000 duties per unit while imported LCVs are slapped P110,000 per unit starting Feb. 1, 2021.

    “We remain cautiously optimistic about the coming months,” Gutierrez said, adding the pandemic still poses a challenge to the automotive industry.

    Compared with December figures of 27,596 units, sales in January were down 15 percent.

    Commercial vehicle (CV) segment continues to dominate the market share with a total share of 68.8 percent with the remaining 31.2 percent shared by the passenger car segment.

    Gutierrez said the CV sales performance reflects the continuous trend of the market preference shifting to larger vehicles.

    Market leader Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. enjoyed brisk demand, rising 22 percent in sales to 10,820 units from 8,890 units in January 2020, and widening its market share to 46 percent.