Bucking the downward trend, the Philippine automotive industry registered a remarkable 19% increase in vehicle for the month of March over the previous month. The industry sold 10,746 units for March, which is surpassed the monthly average of 10,370 in 2008 by 3.6-percent.

Both Passenger Cars (PC) and Commercial Vehicles (CV) showed robust growth of 19% with CVs continuing to take the lead with 64% market share and 6,981 unit sales nationwide. Total first quarter auto sales is at 28,564 units so far.

First quarter figures also show resiliency of the local auto market's performance with a negligible -1% decline in sales compared to the same period last year. This is a stark contrast to the double-digit decline of larger markets such as the US, where YTD sales for the 1st quarter plunged double-digit by -37%.

"The local industry's resiliency and very strong March performance is an indication of consumer's positive economic outlook reflected in the 19% increase in March auto purchases on top of the 2.7% increase in Feb purchases and Jan 09's flat growth. We are hopeful that the positive trend will continue," says Ms. Elizabeth H. Lee, CAMPI President.

So far, our auto industry continues to buck the general global trend and continues on a growth path. We continue to be optimistic and do everything we can to maintain competitive prices, offer vehicles packages at affordable rates that serve consumers' vehicle needs," says Ms. Lee.

"Key to the industry's sustained growth is the stable financing environment where buyers are able to take out loans to finance their purchases. In fact, we see some optimism through the aggressive stance of some major banks that recognize the growth potential of the auto industry by offering affordable loan packages to consumers nationwide--the most recent were BPI's Auto Madness and BDO's Deals on Wheels nationwide events," according to Ms. Lee.

"Additionally, the positive trend is quite encouraging as moves by major banks and lenders which support consumer lending are proving to be healthy for business and the economy. It certainly has had a positive impact on the auto industry. We are indeed thankful and blessed to be having positive gains amid the global auto downturn," says Ms. Lee.

We are still cautiously optimistic and we look forward to a sustained positive average in the coming months.

OFW remittances and the entrepreneurial trend are major factors which continue to impact car sales in a positive way. Filipino expats who have returned are using their talents to start a business which in turn helps spur sales of dual-purpose vehicles such as Vans, Pickup trucks, AUVs, giving buyers the most value for their money especially when starting a business.

Total PC sales grew by 19% in the month of March and total sales of 10,311 units in the first quarter. CVs sales also registered a 19% growth in March with total sales of 18,253 units sold in the first 3 months of the year. AUVs and LCVs continue to be popular registering a 16.8% growth and 18.3% growth respectively. This reflects continued popularity of dual purpose vehicles which can be used for both family and business use. LCVs include Vans and pickup trucks.

Light Trucks sales increased by 24.3% to 501 units compared to the same period last year. This segment grew significantly by 67.6% compared to February 2009 due to fleet sales deliveries. Cat IV & V sales for March 2009 increased by 28.2% compared to February 2009 due to fleet sales transactions. Compared to the same period last year, sales decreased by 33.6 %.