February new vehicle sales drop again, but exports look brighter

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South Africa's auto industry has been negatively affected by Covid-19 (iStock)
South Africa's auto industry has been negatively affected by Covid-19 (iStock)
  • Naamsa on Monday published vehicle sales data for February, which reflected a 13.3% decline.
  • While exports declined 8% compared to the previous year, overall export volumes have been gaining traction in the first two months of the year.
  • The organisation, previously known as the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa, has rebranded to "naamsa | the Automotive Business Council", encompassing all stakeholders it represents across the automotive value chain.


New vehicle sales in February decline by 13.3% compared to the previous year as the industry got off to a "slow start" in 2021, naamsa has said.

Naamsa on Monday released the new vehicle sale data for the month of February. The organisation, formerly known as the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa, has rebranded to "naamsa | the Automotive Business Council", to accurately reflect all the stakeholders it represents across the automotive value chain.

By comparison, in January new vehicle sales dipped 13.9% compared to the performance in the previous year.

"New vehicle sales volumes have struggled to reach the levels of 2019 and early 2020, reflecting the profound and lasting impact of the pandemic on commercial businesses, particularly the vehicle rental market, and households," economists from FNB said in an economic note issued ahead of naamsa's data release.

Similarly, Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan expected new vehicle sales would reflect the declines in consumption and fixed investment rates. This amid "suppressed economic activity and depressed confidence levels," she said. 

Export sales also recorded a decline – by 8%. "Despite the decline, the vehicle export volumes have been steadily gaining traction, and for the first two months of 2021 vehicle exports are now 3 895 units above the corresponding period last year," naamsa's report read. Naamsa said that exports would be supported by rebound in global economic growth, and an improvement in the economic climate of SA's trading partners.

Naamsa highlighted that the performance of the first two months of 2021 compared to that of 2020 continue to reflect the "economic and social challenges" brought on by the pandemic. Naamsa anticipates a rebound in the new vehicle market from March 2021, but warned that business and consumer confidence will remain subdued for the rest of the year.

Naamsa said that the tax relief measures announced in the budget – including the drop in the corporate income tax rate from 28% to 27% from April 2022 – are among the factors that will help support the new vehicle sales market. Other contributing factors include the low interest rates, low inflation and the roll-out of the vaccine in South Africa.

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