Slower inflation seen boosting imported car sales this year

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THE expected slowdown in inflation could boost imported car sales this year, the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors Inc. (AVID) said. 

In a statement on Thursday, AVID President Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo said inflation fell to 3.8 percent in February 2019, returning within the government’s target range of 2 percent to 4 percent. 

With easing inflation, AVID said, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is expected to loosen its monetary policy rates. With attractive financing and lower inflation, auto demand is poised to stage a recovery.

“We are seeing an upturn in all major segments, which augurs well for AVID in the coming months. Initial indications point to the fact that the Philippine economy is poised for improved performance in 2019. We aim to ride this wave of growth,” Agudo said.

She said imported car sales grew 12 percent year-on-year, reaching 7,876 units in February 2019 from 7,017 posted in February 2018.

However, Agudo said AVID’s sales for the first two months of 2019 still lagged by 8 percent at 14,499 units compared to the same period last year.

Sales of light commercial vehicles (LCV) grew 22 percent, and commercial vehicles, 19 percent. However, sales of imported passenger cars declined 1 percent in February.

“We are encouraged by the good sales performance of AVID for the month, which signals stronger consumer confidence, as well as preference for top-notch products. While we are still in the early part of the year, we have gotten over the hump and expect a robust recovery for the automotive industry,” Agudo said.

AVID data showed that LCV segment sales grew to 4,905 units from the 4,028 units in February 2018. On a year-to-date basis, the LCV segment saw a modest decline with 9,146 units sold in 2019 versus the previous year’s 9,434 units.

Sales of imported CVs reached 128 units in the second month of 2019 from last year’s 108 units sold. For the first two months, CV sales remained unchanged with 213 units sold in 2018 and 2019.

Passenger car sales, meanwhile, declined to 2,843 units sold in February 2019 from last year’s 2,881 units. For the first two months of the year, the PC segment reported a 15-percent drop in sales to 5,140 units sold. C

Based on inflation data recently released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), transportation was considered one of the main drivers in the slowdown of inflation to 3.8 percent in February.  

Transportation costs slowed down to 1.2 percent in February 2019. Inflation petroleum and fuels for personal transport equipment contracted 1 percent in February.