Vehicle sales rise by 1.6% in February

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pretoria - Vehicle sales lost momentum in February rising by 1.6%, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) said on Monday.

“Following the strong start to the year, the underlying momentum had weakened slightly during the month of February, 2013,” said Naamsa.

In January new vehicle sales registered substantial gains growing by 14.1% compared to the 48 202 vehicles sold in January last year.

Aggregate new vehicle sales at 53 220 registered an improvement of 832 vehicles or a gain of 1.6% compared to the 52 388 vehicles sold in February last year.

In February 2013, export sales performed well at 27 611 units, an improvement of 5057 vehicles or a gain of 22.4% compared to the 22 554 vehicles exported in February 2012.

Overall, out of the total detailed (disaggregated) reported industry sales of 51 046 vehicles (excluding Mercedes-Benz South Africa), 85.6% units represented dealer sales, 6.6% represented sales to the vehicle rental industry, 3.8% to government and 4% to industry corporate fleets.

The association noted that taking account of the daily selling rate, the new car market had performed reasonably well in February 2013 and at 36 666 units, including Mercedes-Benz sales, reflected an improvement of 304 units or 0.8% compared to the 36 362 new cars sold in February last year which had benefited from one additional selling day.

“Exchange rate weakness probably contributed to pre-emptive buying by consumers to avoid higher expected new vehicle prices,” said Naamsa.

Including estimates for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle sales by segment – sales of industry new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini buses at 14 190 units during February, 2013 reflected an  increase of 636 units to the 13 554 light commercial vehicles sold during the corresponding month last year. 

The sale of  vehicles in the medium and heavy truck segment at an estimated 868 and 1 496 units respectively had recorded a decline of 71 units in the case of medium commercial vehicles and a decline of 37 units in the case of heavy trucks and buses compared  to February 2012.

The overall near term outlook for the automotive sector remained reasonably positive, said Naamsa, adding that factors that would continue to support domestic sales included the low interest rate environment.

The highly competitive trading environment with attractive incentives, low debt servicing costs, high technology  new model introductions and above average demand by car rental companies also form part of factors that would continue to support domestic sales.

“Rising inflationary pressures would limit growth in real disposable income which, together with generally anticipated rising new vehicle prices as a result of the weaker exchange rate and the impending increase in CO2 vehicle emissions tax, could result in further moderation in the rate of growth in sales over the balance of the year.  Industry production, largely as a result of higher new vehicle exports, should register strong growth in 2013,” said Naamsa. –