AUTO  SALES  UP  2.6%  TO  99,451  UNITS  IN  2006

(STAR) By Marianne V. Go - The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (TMA) reported yesterday that automotive sales reached 99,541 units in 2006, a 2.6 percent increase from 97,063 units in 2005.

The sales figure for 2006 is just 459 units short of the 100,000 mark.

Passenger car sales reached 38,125 units, while commercial vehicle sales hit 61,416 units.

CAMPI president Elizabeth H. Lee is optimistic that by next year automotive sales would finally breach the 100,000 mark.

"CAMPI is expecting sales to hit 103,000 this year. In fact, automotive sales would increase if economic fundamentals remain strong," Lee said.

Lee said the continued strength of the peso against the dollar and yen (for Japanese-made vehicles) is expected to boost the local car industry.

"A strong peso may figure in a more robust positive performance for the major players in the industry," she said.

Additionally, Lee said, "solutions for other concerns/issues still hounding the industry would have a significant impact on industry performance for the year as well."

Lee also pointed out that the trend of more commercial vehicle sales cornering about 60 percent of total auto sales in the past years is generally seen to continue this year.

Buyers, Lee said, would see a number of new model introductions across various segments which would help boost industry sales this year.

Lee assured that investments in completely knocked down (CKD) production would continue as new CKD models are introduced into the market.

Export of both completely built-up units (CBUs) and components, Lee continued, would also continue.

However, Lee stressed that certain issues continue to hound the automotive industry.

First and foremost of these is the issue of used vehicles.

Lee stressed that the industry is still waiting for the full enforcement of the Supreme Court (SC) decision on imported used vehicles.

The government, she said, must make sure that there is no leakage from the freeports to Philippine customs territory.

The industry, she said, is urging better coordination and full support from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for full enforcement of the SC directive.

The second issue affecting the automotive industry, Lee said is the incentives rationalization.

She said that any changes must not affect the current Motor Vehicle Development Program (MVDP).

The third issue affecting the industry, Lee said, is the matter of emissions.

This involves the transitory or grace period that should be provided for planning purposes (i.e. inventory, model introduction, etc.) prior to adoption of Euro 2 emission regulations.

Other factors must also be considered such as the total number of vehicles plying the roads that do not have any emission compliance at all.

The fourth issue is the implementation of the biofuels act.

The automotive industry’s participation, Lee said, is needed in the formulation of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) and the study of the possible shift to higher blends.

Toyota Motors Philippines Corp. (TMPC) retained overall market leadership in all segments cornering 38.4 percent of the market with total sales of 38,258 units.

Honda Cars Philippines was a far second with sales of 13,885 units for a market share of 13.9 percent.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. settled for the No. 3 spot with total sales of 12,518 units and a share of 12.6 percent.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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