New vehicle sales continue downward trend

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pretoria - New vehicle sales for September continued its downward trend, reflecting a decline of 22.4 percent compared to the same time last year.

"Vehicle sales for September came in at 31 726 units reflecting a decline of 9 132 vehicles or 22.4 percent compared to the 40 858 units sold during the corresponding month last year," the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) announced, on Friday.

Out of a total of industry sales of 31 726 vehicles reported by Naamsa, 77 percent or 24 420 units represented dealer/retail sales, 13.6 percent of sales represented the car rental industry, 5.7 percent were sales to Government and 3.7 percent of sales went into auto industry corporate fleets.

New light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibus sales were at 9 867 units during September 2009, reflecting a decline of 2 770 vehicles or 21.9 percent compared to the 12 637 units of September 2008.

Sale of vehicles in the medium and heavy truck segments of the industry had also registered falls in September 2009.

"Sales of medium commercials at 551 units and sales of heavy commercials at 1 042 units had registered a fall of 307 units or 35.8 percent in the case of medium commercials, and 987 units or 48.6 percent, in the case of heavy and extra heavy trucks and buses compared to the same month last year."

Continued weakness in medium and heavy truck sales reflected ongoing lower investment spending in the economy, said Naamsa.

Turning to exports, the impact of the global financial meltdown was felt in September with aggregate industry export sales at 13 974 vehicles. This reflected a decline of 13 595 vehicles or a fall of 49.3 percent compared to the 27 569 vehicles exported in September 2008.

"No significant improvement in export sales was anticipated in the short to medium term. It was clear that until the domestic recession subsided and an economic recovery gained some traction, it would continue to be difficult for a sustainable rebound to develop in the South African automotive market," Naamsa said.

The domestic operating environment would remain difficult in the short to medium term and any improvement would depend on a revival in consumer spending and lower interest rates.

Any improvement in vehicle exports would depend on a recovery in global economic conditions and higher levels of confidence in international financial markets, said Naamsa