Jan 242015

MANILA, Philippines – Car sales should continue to accelerate this year as domestic economic growth remains robust, the research arm of Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. said.

“Expect the automotive industry to have another banner year this 2015 as economic prospects continue to be positive,” Mabellene Reynaldo, research analyst at Metrobank, said in a recent report.

“Manageable inflation and record-low oil prices are also expected to support demand. Additional spending may also be seen as the 2016 elections draws near,” she added.

Latest government data showed Philippine economic growth slowed to 5.3 percent in the third quarter of last year from 6.4 percent in the second quarter. This brought the nine-month growth rate to 5.8 percent, below the government’s 6.5 to 7.5 percent target.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank, however, expect growth to pick up this year from last year’s performance. The IMF forecast economic expansion at 6.6 percent, while the World Bank sees it at 6.5 percent.

Vehicle sales last year went up 30 percent to a record-high of 234,747 units from 181,283 in 2013, combined data from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association Inc. (TMA) showed.

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“Sales of passenger cars climbed by 48 percent year-on-year in 2014 as new models were introduced and growing purchases in the small category. Robust income growth and low interest rates also fueled automotive demand,” Reynaldo said.

“As of the end of third quarter last year, auto loans have climbed by 19.9 percent year-on-year to P212.5 billion among universal and commercial banks,” she pointed out.

CAMPI said last week it has forecast sales to reach 272,000 this year on sustained demand on the back of the economy’s rosy prospects and the continued decline in oil prices.

The group said 60 percent of total sales would be commercial vehicles, while the rest would be made up of passenger cars.

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