MANILA,  February 12, 2004 (STAR) By Marianne V. Go - The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association of the Phillipines (TMA) reported yesterday that total vehicle sales went down by 5.3 percent to 6,518 units last month from 6,880 units in January 2003 as demand soured due to a series of price increases that had to be implemented by the local car manufacturers due to the continued weakening of the peso against the dollar.

"The industry had to increase prices due to the continued drop of the peso against the dollar," an industry observer said.

The peso fell to a historic low of 56.22 to $1 last Jan. 29 due to rising political concerns ahead of the May election.

However, despite a slow start this year, the local car industry is still expecting to post a growth for 2004.

In fact, the CAMPI and TMA said that investor confidence in the country may be renewed if the May election would turn out to be relatively clean and honest.

Demand for commercial vehicles suffered heavily last month with sales plunging by nearly 19 percent to 4,090 units from 5,045 units in the same period last year.

Industry sources said the drop was due mainly to the new excise tax, which now included the Asian Utility Vehicles (AUV) in the tax net.

Demand for passenger cars, on the other hand, recorded a strong 32.3 percent growth with total sales of 2,428 units in January from only 1,835 units a year ago.

As a result, the passenger car segment managed to improve its market share from only 26 percent last year to 37 percent last month.

The passenger car segmentís strong growth, however, was not enough to offset the decline noted in the commercial vehicle segment which accounted for 63 percent of the market.

In terms of overall market leadership, Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. maintained its top post with total sales of 2,448 units last month.

Coming in second overall was Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. with total sales of 1,051 units or a market share of 16.21 percent.

Honda was number three with total sales of 1,019 units or a market share of 15.63 percent.

Toyota also tops the market in terms of passenger car sales with 1,203 units sold or a market share of 49.55 percent, besting Honda with passenger car sales for January of 768 units.

The car industry is expecting to sell more than 100,000 units this year.

Ford reintroduces Mazda in RP By Marianne V. Go The Philippine Star 02/12/2004

Ford Group Philippines formally reintroduced yesterday the Mazda brand in the local market.

Ford Group Philippines president Henry Co said the Mazda brand, while part of the Ford family, would be handled independently by Mazda Philippines.

For this year, Co disclosed, Mazda would bring in four models.

The first two to be introduced next week would be the high-end sedan Mazda 6 and the sport utility vehicle Tribute.

Later in the year, Co said, Mazda would bring in two more vehicles, most likely the Protege and a still undetermined model.

Mazda has no immediate plans of selling a pick-up model.

For this year alone, Co said, Mazda hopes to be able to sell at least 2,000 units.

Mazda will also initially set up one dealership at the corner of Quezon Avenue and Araneta Avenue and put up two more in Metro Manila within the year.

According to Co, Mazda would establish more provincial dealerships next year.

"With Mazdaís 2,000 domestic production, Fordís projected production this year is expected to reach 25,000 units with 16,000 units intended for export and 7,000 units under the Ford brand," Co said.

"In 2003, the Ford Groupís total production, reached only 19,000 units with 13,500 exported to Thailand and Indonesia," Co said.

The expected higher export figure of 16,000 units this year, Co said, is due to the addition of two more ASEAN markets.

"One of these markets is Vietnam, while the other market is still under wraps," Co said.

According to Co, in terms of volume, the Ford Group should actually be ranked number two in terms of total sales, both domestic and exports.

"The Ford Group, invested roughly about $25 million for the Mazda brand out of the earlier $50 million that Ford announced it is investing in the Philippines," Co explained.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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