Car sales may drop 35%

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    After a brief recovery in July, vehicle sales slumped anew in August, a traditional low sales month, bringing the year-to-date decline to 47.6 percent.

    But this decline should taper off to just 35 percent under a revised target of 240,000 units in sales for the year.

    A joint report by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association showed total vehicle sales declined 12.8 percent to 17,906 units in August from 20,542 units sold in July.

    This brought sales in the first eight months of the year to 123,489 units from 235,544 units in the same period this year.

    CAMPI president Rommel Gutierrez said the industry is turning to aggressive promotions to boost sales and achieve its revised sales forecast of 240,000 units in 2020.

    That would be about 35 percent down from about 369,000 units sold in 2019.

    “Our objective is to achieve if not outperform this new target. Otherwise, recovery will be even more difficult,” Gutierrez said.

    He appealed to the Department of Trade and Industry which is conducting an investigation on a petition for the imposition of safeguard duties on imported automobiles to “consider the impact of the pandemic on the automotive industry recovery” in coming out with the decision.

    The safeguard petition was filed by the Philippine Metalworkers Association long before the new coronavirus pandemic.

    Safeguard duties would make imported vehicles more expensive, which could dampen demand.

    “Economic recovery can be a gauge of the industry’s future performance, but it also depends on the policy environment. Any restrictive policies such as safeguard duty will only limit the industry’s capability to navigate the current crisis,” Gutierrez said.

    CAMPI attributed the August decline to the low business and consumer confidence amid the general economic slowdown

    “Spending remains a challenge especially for big-ticket items such as cars,” said Gutierrez.