Sales of imported vehicles down by 11% in Jan.-Feb.

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The Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (Avid) suffered an 11 percent drop in sales to 4,928 units in the first two months of the year from 5,507 units in the same period last year.

Passenger car sales plunged 33 percent but a 31-percent growth in light commercial vehicle sales cushioned its impact on the sector’s overall performance. Light vehicle sales were mainly pulled up by Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (Hari), The Covenant Car Company Inc., Motor Image Pilipinas Inc. and CATS Motors Inc., Avid said in a report.

Sales for February alone dropped by 20 percent to 2,303 units from 2,881 units in the same month in 2012.

The light commercial vehicle segment posted a 49-percent growth to 1,275 units compared to 855 units in the same month last year. However, the passenger car segment experienced a 49-percent drop, affecting overall sales performance.

Hari said it continued to be hampered by “unstable local supply due to strong global demand.” It reported an overall 20-percent decline in its sales to 3,624 units in January-February 2013 from 4,522 units a year ago. Passenger car models were hardest with a 31-percent decline in sales while light commercial vehicles posed a 1-percent gain in February, Hari said in a separate report.

Sales of the Hyundai brand in February 2013 fell 31 percent to 1,632 units from 2,369 in the same month in 2012. Passenger car models declined by 51 percent while the light commercial vehicles segment posted 20 percent growth, Hari said. Hyundai stand-out performers for the month were the Santa Fe SUV and the Grand Starex passenger van.

However, Avid said it remained optimistic that the Philippine economy would continue posting robust growth this year. Election spending coupled by increased government spending particularly on infrastructure, growing manufacturing and services sectors, and the accelerated public-private partnership projects would provide enough thrust to keep the economy upbeat in the near term.

The automotive industry is likely to rise with the economy and may probably post a double-digit growth this year, Avid said.

The other Avid members are Mini Cooper distributor British United Automobiles Inc., Volvo distributor Scandinavian Motors, and Porsche and Audi distributor PGA Cars Inc. Riza T. Olchondra

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