The Philippine auto industry capped off 2010 with a strong 27.2-percent growth against the previous year selling 168,490 units. The industry has succeeded in surpassing the industry's highest-ever sales benchmark of 162,000 units set in 1996. Overall December sales grew by 1.7% where the industry sold a total of 13,749 units based on the report by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines.

"It's about time the industry surpassed that benchmark. 2010 was an auspicious year for the auto industry, showing strong growth backed by major accomplishments that will help the industry as a whole move forward," says Elizabeth Lee, CAMPI President.

"2011 is likewise seen to be a positive year as overall economic environment continues to be relatively favorable with sustained business and consumer confidence, GDP growth, stable FOREX, positive forecast for OFW remittances, manageable inflation rate forecast, continued healthy financing environment, as well as new model introductions by auto players this year," added Ms. Lee.

Passenger cars posted a considerable growth of 27% for the year selling 58,691 units, although there was a slight decline in the month of December of 4.9% partly due to the relatively short selling month. Total passenger cars sold for the month was recorded at 4,487 units.

Commercial vehicles (CV) likewise grew by 27.4% for the year with December sales posting an additional 5.2% year-on-year. Light commercial vehicles continued to show the strongest segment growth within the CV category with a sizeable growth of 32.3%. AUVs likewise grew by a strong double-digit growth of 21.9%.

CAMPI considers 2010 to be a landmark year for the auto industry based on its auto sales performance.

CAMPI has set the initial growth forecast for 2011 vehicle sales at about 4-5% as the industry expects sales to more or less follow the regular seasonality typical of auto sales. Last year's trend did not follow the general seasonality due to national elections and the post-Ondoy effect on car sales. CAMPI President Elizabeth Lee did note that the sales forecast would be adjusted accordingly on a per quarter basis.

The industry group expressed hope for increased investor confidence in the country's economy this year as the Aquino government continues to work towards its goal of stamping corruption to have a level playing field that results in a healthy investment climate. The government's direction to support the expansion of local assembly operations will also be a key factor in job creation and give the Philippines an opportunity to participate in a larger scale of business regionally.

"We have to take advantage of the opportunities that are present and use the plant capacities we have available to serve both the domestic and export markets. A strong, clear, and competitive road map is key," stressed Ms. Lee.