Car sales expected to surpass 2016 target of 370,000 units

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The Philippine car industry is poised for record-breaking sales this year.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Philippine car industry is expected to breach its sales target of 370,000 units this year.

This projected sales performance is nearly 100,000 units more than last year.

Data from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) show car sales for the first half reached 167,481 units, some 36,000 units more than the same period last year.

At the opening of the 6th Philippine International Motor Show Wednesday, CAMPI president Rommel Gutierrez said all vehicle segments will grow, with nearly two in three vehicles sold going to the commercial sector.

He also said entry-level vehicles with prices below ₱500,000 will be a major contributor to passenger-car sales. Vehicles in this segment include the Toyota Wigo, Mitsubishi Mirage and Suzuki Celerio.

Gutierrez attributes the growth to the upbeat market.

"Our economy is doing very well," he said. "We have new models coming in and, of course, the financing packages. 60% of the total sales is actually from financing."

No need to restrict car sales

Reacting to criticisms that higher car sales lead to road congestion, Gutierrez said CAMPI is working with government to address traffic and other transportation issues.

"We support any government effort that will help address the traffic problems in our country," he said.

"CAMPI is a socially responsible organization and we have been working with the government on policies not only in traffic management, but also other issues affecting the automotive industry. We have been discussing with the (Land Transportation Office) LTO on things like how to address the (shortage of) license plates, the temporary plates and other issues."

But Gutierrez said the solutions to be implemented should not restrict car sales.

"We have been saying that the problem is not only cars," he said. "In fact, we don't encourage curtailing the sales of the cars because this is an indication of where or economy is. The auto industry contributes very much to the economy as a whole."

Providing mobility

Former LTO chief Alberto Suansing told CNN Philippines on Thursday that higher car sales should not be a cause for concern.

"The government just needs to fully implement traffic laws to maintain sanity on the road," he said. "For instance, Republic Act 4136 says you are not allowed to just park along any street. It also talks about the rules that drivers must follow."

Suansing, who also leads advocacy group Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership, said the Department of Transportation's call for emergency powers would help fast-track key infrastructure projects to improve public transport.

Read: DOTr to Senators: Emergency powers needed to ease traffic

"Improving public transport will completely change the picture," he said.

"The government would have the moral ascendancy to tell car owners to leave their cars at home. The question in every Juan de la Cruz's mind that the government should answer is: "Anong sasakyan namin? [What will we ride?]"

Suansing said government could prioritize programs for buses, which require less infrastructure investment than trains or subways.