Toyota opens first car dealership amid pandemic

TOYOTA Motor Philippines Corp. has opened a new car dealership in the middle of the pandemic, its first since 2019, in what its local head described as the carmaker’s “testament of confidence” and optimism that recovery is in sight.

The new dealership in Zamboanga del Norte is the company’s 71st in the country. The 7,200-square-meter service hub in Dipolog City is Toyota Philippines’ second dealership in Zamboanga Peninsula, the company said in a press release on Wednesday.

“The opening of this new dealership in the middle of the pandemic is a testament of confidence in the management capabilities of the group, as well as our optimism in seeing economic recovery with job opportunities generated for the members of the community,” Toyota Philippines President Atsuhiro Okamoto said.

Toyota Philippines last opened a local dealership when it launched its Valenzuela City shop in June 2019.

The new dealership will have a 2,600-square-meter showroom and a service workshop with six bays for general services and eight bays for body and paint services. The workshop will be able to service up to 32 units per day.

The car industry recorded 13,315% sales growth to 17,843 vehicles in April from the extremely low base a year ago when Luzon was placed under the strictest form of lockdown.

April sales, however, were 13.8% lower than March figures, data from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) showed.

CAMPI called car companies’ performance in April as a record increase since the start of the pandemic last year.

CAMPI President Rommel R. Gutierrez said that he expects the car industry to recover to pre-pandemic sales as late as 2023.

Recovery would be achievable, he said, if there are certainties in the market, consistent government policies, and widespread inoculation against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The best-case scenario for the industry in 2021, he said, is a 30-35% sales growth, but the provisional safeguard duties on imported cars could lower growth to 20-25% compared with last year’s figure. — Jenina P. Ibañez

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