The public's appetite for gas guzzlers did not show signs of slowing down as local car manufacturers saw sales fatten in March.

Total motor vehicle sales in March leapfrogged 29% year-on-year to 36,880 units in March, a joint report by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) showed on Wednesday.

Sales in March proved to be higher than the preceding month, benefitting largely from the domestic economy's full reopening. The industry was roiled by headwinds, as sales waxed and waned, since the pandemic ravaged the global economy in 2020.

'It is worth noting that the March 2023 sales performance is the second highest monthly performance in a post-pandemic time, after the more than 37,000-unit sales level recorded in December last year,' said CAMPI President Rommel Gutierrez.

First-quarter sales amounted to 97,824 units, expanding 30.1% on-year, CAMPI noted.

'In the same way, favorable economic conditions are also an important driving factor for sustained growth,' Gutierrez added.

Vehicle sales are often used as barometer of economic strength. The central bank, for instance, closely follows this gauge to measure consumer appetite for durable goods.

Household consumption represents 70% of annual economic output, and big purchases like cars materially add to gross domestic product when produced more.

In 2022, the economy grew at an average of 7.6% year-on-year, a figure that exceeded expectations as consumption showed resilience in the face of a multi-year high inflation.

Data broken down showed sales of passenger cars, comprising a 27.27% market share last month, skyrocketed 51.8% year-on-year. On a monthly basis, growth trailed at 39.91%.

Commercial vehicle sales rose 16.3% year-on-year to 26,822 units in March. This segment accounted for 72.73% market share in the previous month, inching up 13.1% month-on-month.


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