PH still lags in ASEAN vehicle manufacturing

By Louella D. Desiderio, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 12 2014 08:02 AM | Updated as of May 12 2014 05:14 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Despite posting a double-digit increase in the number of motor vehicle units assembled in the Philippines in the first quarter, the country still lags behind its peers in the Southeast Asian region.

Data from the ASEAN Automotive Federation showed the Philippines’ motor vehicle output went up 17 percent to reach 20,400 units in the first quarter from 17,429 units in the comparable period last year.

The country’s motor vehicle output was the lowest in the region as Thailand manufactured 517,492 units, Indonesia assembled 340,237 units, Malaysia made 153,357 units and Vietnam had 22,751 units for the same period.

The total number of motor vehicles assembled in the region declined 12 percent to 1.054 million units in the first three months of the year from 1.191 million units in the same period a year ago.

For motorcycle and scooter production, the Philippines was among those which had the smallest output for the first quarter.

The number of motorcycle and scooter units assembled in the country for the January to March period climbed 13 percent to 189,966 units from just 168,118 units in the same period in 2013.

Even as Philippine motorcycle and scooter output rose year-on-year, it was still behind Indonesia which had 1.984 million units and Thailand’s 462,218 units, but ahead of Malaysia which made 99,326 units in the first quarter.

ASEAN’s motorcycle and scooter output slid from 4 percent to 2.736 million units in the first quarter from 2.852 million units in the same period last year.

As for sales of motor vehicles, the Philippines sold 51,643 units as of end-March, 23 percent higher than the 42,034 units in the same three-month period in 2013.

This placed the Philippines fourth out of seven countries in the region, following Indonesia (328,554 units) Thailand (224,171 units) and Malaysia (159,910 units), but beating Brunei (4,348 units), Singapore (9,366 units) and Vietnam (24,121 units).

Total motor vehicle sales in the region contracted 14.8 percent to 802,113 units in the first quarter compared to the 941,644 units sold a year ago.

In terms of motorcycle and scooter sales, the Philippines ranked third out of five countries, after selling 202,457 units in the first quarter, a 22 percent increase from 165,730 units last year.

Indonesia got the top spot as it sold 1.990 million motorcycle and scooter units, followed by Thailand with sales of 431,795 units in the first quarter.

Malaysia came in fourth with sales of 104,454 motorcycle and scooter units while Singapore was last place having sold just 2,343 units in the first quarter.

Motorcycle and scooter sales in the ASEAN decreased by three percent to 2.731 million units as of end-March from 2.814 million units in 2013.

Local automotive industry players said earlier many firms are likely to defer decisions to pour in additional funds for assembly operations, even if there is strong demand for vehicles, given the delay in the release of the road map.

“The delay in the announcement of a roadmap slows down decision on further investments in the country,” Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. president Rommel Gutierrez said.

“Investors want to see first what is in store for them in terms of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives before they pour in additional investments. The continued delay will not be good for us. We might lose this opportunity and miss the boat again,” Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturers Association of the Philippines president Ferdinand Raquelsantos said.

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said earlier it would be difficult to give a new target date for the release of the roadmap for the automotive industry.

“Hard to say because it has to be approved by a bigger body,” he said.