MANILA – Automotive sales in the first semester dipped by 1.6 percent as firms continued to struggle with a supply shortage caused by the disasters that hit Japan in March, an industry group reported.

The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers in the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) said its members sold 70,000 vehicles during the period, down from 71,121 units last year after companies failed to catch up with market demand.

The drop would narrow to 0.74 percent, counting results from the local arm of South Korean Hyundai Motor Co., which bolted CAMPI last year and saw its sales for the period rise by 5 percent to 10,355 units from 9,834 units last year. Adding data released by Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI) earlier this week, the industry’s January-to-June sales totaled 80,355 units.

Despite the drop, CAMPI is keeping its goal of growing sales by five percent from last year’s 168,490 units, looking forward to a second half recovery.

“As of now, the industry still maintains its 2011 forecast of 5 percent growth, (but) there is a continuing assessment of the projection … taking into account the actual sales performance and other relevant factors,” Homer A. Maranan, CAMPI secretary-general, said.

The organization said: “CAMPI has been projecting a recovery toward the third and fourth quarters owing to the fact that the supply problem is a temporary situation … the industry is expecting that the impact of the Japan crisis on the domestic auto industry would taper off going into the current quarter … (as) validated by the recent survey in Japan (showing) industrial production increased by 5.7 percent in May, and this includes transport equipment, passenger cars, and trucks.”

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Commercial vehicles still dominated sales, accounting for two-thirds or 46,504 units but the number was
down two percent from a year earlier. Passenger car sales fell by 0.8 percent to 23,496 units.

Toyota Motors Philippines Corp. led the industry in the first semester with 24,984 units sold, accounting for 35.69 percent of the market share. Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. and Honda Cars Philippines Inc. were second and third, respectively, with 16,865 units (24.01 percent of market share) and 6,991 units (9.99 percent), CAMPI said. (Business World)