There's no denying that vehicle sales plummeted last year compared to 2019 due to the pandemic. The industry dropped by about 40% overall.

But there is one vehicle that had a significant decrease in sales: the Toyota Alphard. According to sales figures we received from Toyota Motor Philippines, they sold only 370 units of the Alphard in 2020.

To put that number in perspective, in 2019 the country's number one automaker sold 1,642 units of the luxury minivan, meaning the 370 units from 2020 represents a plummet of 77.5%. The 2020 sales for the model are actually lower than 2018 when they sold 508 units which were preceded by 1060 units in 2017.

The Alphard is a very popular vehicle from Toyota, and there have been long queues to procure one from dealerships prior to 2020. So what gives?

The pandemic did play a big role in dropping sales as a whole. Dealerships, after all, were closed for at least 2 months during the initial ECQ. But it seems the reason may be a bit more controversial, and it's got four letters: POGO.

Yes, our contacts in the industry state that one of the major reasons for the Alphard's decrease in sales is the pullout of many Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) operations in the country. When the country was placed under lockdown in March 2020, several operators returned to China or shifted their operations elsewhere. 

To give you an idea of just how real that is, try and inquire about an Alphard from a Toyota dealership today. Chances are you'll be able to order one without having to wait. You might even be able to get the color of your choice. But if you did that in 2019, odds are you'll end up waiting a few months to get a unit. According to a source that tried to order at the time, you might even have to wait half a year.

The lack of Alphard stock wasn't limited to dealers in Metro Manila. Even Toyota dealerships in the province were sold out of the luxury MPV. It's no wonder several buyers jumped ship when Lexus Philippines opened the order books for the LM. Yes, even with the nearly PHP 1.5 million premium.

So if you're still in the market for an Alphard, maybe now is the best time to buy one. There's no line anymore. And you may even get a discount.