The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa said in a statement released on Wednesday that the automotive industry, which contributes 6.9% to GDP, has recorded an almost 30% decline in vehicle sales this March compared to the same month last year.
The industry saw a 29.7% decline in sales from 2019, having decreased by 14 150 units year-on-year to 33 545.
This is largely due to "the recent developments around the coronavirus and challenging economic conditions in the country", said the statement.
The start of the national 21-day lockdown, declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa from March 26 to April 16, impacted the March 2020 results as three days were lost, causing a decline in both domestic and export sales.
Export sales saw a 21.5% decline (7 905 units) year-on-year.
Naamsa said South Africa was facing an "unprecedented" struggle, as countries all over the world faced similar challenges as lockdown strategies were implemented.
"The automotive industry across the world is currently experiencing unprecedented challenges due to the global lockdowns implemented across all major auto manufacturing countries and cities to flatten the Covid-19 curve," it said.
Despite the steep decline in sales, the automotive industry is joining forces to fight the pandemic locally and globally.
"Collectively, we are working with our respective governments to support our country’s essential services, such as offering factories to produce ventilators and other medical equipment urgently required to fight against Covid-19," Naamsa said.
Further discussion by the Naamsa executive council is expected, to brainstorm ways in which the automotive industry help "flatten the curve" or slow the rate of infection.