MOTOR vehicle sales in the Philippines bucked a regional decline and continued to climb in March, bringing growth in the first quarter to 21.6%, according to latest data from the ASEAN Automotive Federation.
“The problem is buying power, that’s why we’ve always been behind… The buying power is coming up that’s why we’re experiencing this sales [growth],” said Vicente T. Mills, Jr., president of the Federation of Automotive Industries of the Philippines, Inc.
“The banks are also starting to lend,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of a luncheon for industry stakeholders hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry.
In terms of growth, the country was next only to Singapore’s 80.4% and Vietnam’s 37.4% in a tally that compared seven member economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Total regional sales fell 3.8% to 741,392 from 770,566 units in the same quarter last year.
In volume terms, more vehicles were sold in the Philippines in the first three months at 76,479 units compared with 56,239 for Vietnam and 25,728 for Singapore. Sales during the quarter dropped for Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
Indonesia sold the most cars at 267,227 units, although this was down by 5.4% from 282,344 a year earlier. Thailand followed with 181,560 units, down 8.2% year-on-year from 197,787. Sales in Malaysia reached 131,267, but were down 22%. Brunei sold 2,892, down 28.9%.
“Thailand and Malaysia are starting to level off,” Mr. Mills said. “They’re not falling, but their saturation point is much higher in vehicles per thousand people.”
Sales were consistently on the rise from January to March for Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines although the latter was the only one of the three that showed monthly growth.
The country’s sales growth in January, February and March was 27.6%, 21.7% and 16.8%, respectively.
“Thailand has only a population of 60-70 million. We’re a hundred million. They’ve been selling 700,000 units per year for the past 10 years, ” he said. “Their vehicle density is triple ours.”
In motor vehicle production, Vietnam and the Philippines were the only countries that manufactured more than the previous year. Vietnam’s output during the quarter was up 42.7% at 47,380 units, beating the Philippines 18.4% increase to 25,209.
Mr. Mills said that as long as the economy maintains its growth, consumers will continue to exercise their buying power.
“Our vehicle fleet is old. Now, all of these new engines are more fuel efficient. When we go to Euro 4, some of these old clunkers will not be able to run anymore,” he said, referring to the globally accepted European emission standard for vehicles.
Thailand recorded the largest output at 506,874, down 3.4%. Indonesia came out next with 285,093, lower by 5.1%, and Malaysia with 129,591, down 20.8% compared with the level in the same quarter last year.
No production volume figures were given for Brunei and Singapore.
The federation serves as a platform to work with ASEAN governments and the regional grouping’s secretariat towards achieving the ASEAN Free Trade Area, a bloc that supports local manufacturing in member countries. Mr. Mills’s organization represents the Philippines in the regional federation.
ASEAN is composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Source: BWorld Online