AMID the economy’s continued growth, driven by positive investor confidence and increased consumer spending, local vehicle sales zoomed in the first quarter of 2016 by 22 percent to 76,479 units from 62,882 units in the same period last year.
A joint report of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (Campi) and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) showed that heavy trucks and buses posted the biggest growth.
The industry groups said all segments within the commercial vehicles category performed well. But Category 5, or heavy-duty trucks and buses, led the rally with a most impressive growth of nearly 98-percent year-on-year in the past three months and 87 percent for March alone. For the first quarter, heavy-duty trucks and buses sold 475 units, 179 units of which were sold in March.
According to Campi and TMA, the government’s ongoing re-fleeting program and both public and private infrastructure projects pushed the sales of this category.
Industry leaders said bus fleets plying the main streets of the National Capital Region are in need of serious refleeting, as most of them are already over 15 years old, while the ideal maximum age is 10 years.
Market leader Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) earlier reported that its trucks and buses drastically contributed in the company’s own robust sales for January, as 333 units were delivered, doubling the 166 units sold in January 2015.
“The country is still experiencing a stellar economic growth,” IPC President Hajime Koso said. “We are eyeing better sales from our line-up as the year progresses. Based on the industry target, we are expecting a modest growth of about 9 percent this year, but it can be higher.”
He said the forecast is based on the industry’s growth target of 15 percent for 2016.
The truck assembler’s top honcho attributed the sturdy sales especially for trucks to the upcoming election.
“Business has always been lucrative during the election season, aside from the usual business that we have,” he said, saying the campaign period is expected to boost sales of trucks and buses further.
IPC posted a record 60-percent sales growth in 2015. Despite its lower growth forecast for this year, the company jump-started its sales with a handsome 62-percent year-on-year sales growth in January.
Last September, in an effort to gain more of the commercial bus and trucking market, the Philippines’ No. 2 truck manufacturer, 40-year-old Pilipinas Hino, Inc. rebranded itself to Hino Motors Philippines Corp. (HMP). This came after the company became a joint-venture between Hino Motors, Ltd (taking 70 percent), Marubeni Corp. also of Japan (with 20 percent), and Filipino partners with the remaining 10-percent share.
IPC has the most number of sales units in the Philippines, followed by Hino, Man Automotive Concessionaires Corp., Columbian Motors Corp. (Nissan Diesel), and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp.
Industry leaders believe that the government refleeting program and increased demand from the construction industry, mostly from the private sector, have mainly powered the trucks and buses industry’s sales growth.