Following a sales slump in the previous year, the Philippine automotive market faces a flat growth as it enters a new decade. The 2019 sales numbers are in and overall, car companies were able to sell more than 410,000 vehicles, which is a 2% improvement from what was sold in 2018.
Here are the top 10 car brands in the Philippines based on sales performance, as compiled from the data provided by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI), the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA), and the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID).
The market is slowly recovering, we must say. And thanks to last year’s honor roll, the downward sales trend among the market leaders was offset to other brands, allowing them to clinch the coveted top spots. Let’s go through some of the notables this year.
Indisputable Market Leaders
To nobody’s surprise, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) continues its dominance in the Philippine automotive market following a sales slump in 2018. Representing a 5.9% sales growth and selling 161,385 units in 2019 – excluding Lexus vehicles – the Japanese marque garnered a whopping 39.34% share in the market, besting other car brands by a mile in terms of sales performance.
Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) comes in 2nd place with 64,065 units sold, capturing over 15% of the local car sales numbers. Of note, MMPC managed to hold its place despite selling fewer cars last year than in 2018 – and with only a handful of vehicles in the Mitsubishi lineup currently on offer.
Together, Toyota and Mitsubishi are a one-two punch in the Philippine car market, capturing more than half of the total number of cars sold in the country.
Strong Climb To The Top
Only two brands posted double-digit sales growth in 2019 – Nissan Philippines, Inc. (NPI) and Suzuki Philippines (SPH), concluding with 22.15% and 21.17% sales growth, respectively.
These numbers not only represent a strong market presence of the two Japanese brands, but they also show the inherent affection of Filipino car buyers to seven-seaters and pickup trucks. Both the Terra (10,469 units sold) and Navara (19,034 units sold) were responsible for Nissan’s remarkable growth. Meanwhile, the Ertiga led the charge for Suzuki with 34% of the company’s total sales number for 2019, along with a number of new models such as the Swift, Vitara, and the popular Jimny.
The strong sales performance of both marques allowed them to oust Ford Philippines and Honda Cars Philippines Inc. (HCPI) in the country’s top 5 car brands in 2019, with Nissan finishing at 3rd place and Suzuki at the 5th spot.
Perhaps it’s all about the pricing, or the availability of attractive promos, but whatever Nissan and Suzuki were doing last year seemed to have blossomed into positive sales performance for both companies.
A Noteworthy Comeback
Speaking of strong sales performance, Kia Philippines – now under AC Motors of the Ayala Corporation – finished 2019 with an incredible 124.26% sales growth. This allowed the Korean company to clinch the 10th spot of the top Philippine car brands, signifying a strong comeback into the limelight.
The Soluto, which was introduced during the brand’s relaunch at the start of 2019, led Kia through its paces. Simply put – 1 out of 2 Kia cars sold last year was a Soluto. Now, with the Seltos crossover reinforcing the Korean brand’s lineup, will the sales trend for the Ayala-owned Kia continue to improve this year?
A Major Gain
Morris Garages, otherwise known as MG, was a relatively unknown brand to Filipinos in 2018 – not to mention its questionable marketing stunt at the beginning of the same year.
But bygones be bygones, MG Philippines is now under the distributorship of The Covenant Car Company, Inc. (TCCCI). The same company that distributes Chevrolet vehicles in the country took the helm of the SAIC-owned British brand in Q4 of 2018, spearheading the launch with three MG cars in the range.
Armed with ridiculously low price tags and arguably pleasing aesthetics, MG cars gained popularity, and its sales performance in 2019 is concrete proof of that. MG Philippines sold 5,085 units last year, clinching the 9th spot and upending the more established brands in the process.
Just like Nissan and Suzuki, can the reinvigorated MG brand continue its momentum and retain its position as one of the top automotive brands in the Philippines?
Three-Year Trend, and Beyond
Looking back at the numbers from the previous two years and comparing them with the current ones reveal a trend. Almost every car brand experienced a dip from 2017’s sales numbers, but among the market leaders, Isuzu Philippines faced the biggest deficit with a hefty plunge from what the company sold two years ago (30,086 versus 13,791).
This can be attributed to the aging cars in the Isuzu lineup, the mu-X and D-Max. Filipinos are fond of something new, that’s a fact, which makes us wonder if the supposed arrival of the all-new D-Max this year can counter the downward trend of the Japanese company.
Meanwhile, the improving sales performance of Nissan and Suzuki could be observed as early as 2017, with Nissan almost doubling its units sold in the same year. 2020 would be an interesting year for both brands because of impending lineup updates. Nissan is expected to bring in the new-generation Juke, Almera, and Sylphy, which should reinforce the sales strength of the bigger Nissan vehicles.
Suzuki, on the other hand, has the facelifted Ertiga and Ciaz under its sleeve. The Japanese marque is also bringing in the Ertiga-based XL7 crossover this year, which could stir the small SUV-esque seven-seater segment.
But what we seriously want to see from these car companies is their commitment to providing excellent after-sales services and continuous availability of spare parts – because relationships with car buyers don’t end with customers leaving the dealerships on a brand new car, smiling from ear to ear.
Whatever the case is, we all know that price is king, along with several other factors that could affect the success of a brand. Promos are good, and so are discounts and freebies. If these are the things that would attract car buyers in finally signing on the dotted line, then so be it.
But what we seriously want to see from these car companies is their commitment to providing excellent after-sales services and continuous availability of spare parts – because relationships with car buyers don’t end with customers leaving the dealerships on a brand new car, smiling from ear to ear. We believe that car brands should invest in these relationships in order to survive in this dog-eat-dog Philippine automotive market for a long time.
Just like romantic relationships, dealer-to-buyer relationships need constant follow-throughs. Really, just take a hint from the market leaders.