New vehicle sales could face a fresh challenge - shortages of some models

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The expected turnaround of the market for new vehicle sales has commenced, says naamsa. (iStock)
The expected turnaround of the market for new vehicle sales has commenced, says naamsa. (iStock)
  • The Automotive Business Council has released data for new vehicle sales in March 2021.
  • In its view, the expected turnaround of the market for new vehicle sales has commenced.
  • Stock shortages of some models may, however, be experienced in coming months.

New vehicle sales in 2021 may be hampered by stock shortages of some models in the coming months, Mikel Mabasa, CEO of naamsa, said on Thursday.

"This could be caused by Covid-19 induced manufacturing supply chain disruptions, such as the current global shortage of semi-conductors, or computer chips, an important part of modern vehicles," Mabasa said in a statement, announcing the Automotive Business Council's data for new vehicle sales in March 2021.

At the same time, the expected turnaround of the market for new vehicle sales has commenced, he in his view. This comes after the hard lockdown at the end of March last year resulted in the temporary suspension of vehicle production and sales.

In March 2021 Toyota sold the most units overall, followed by Volkswagen, Nissan, Ford and Hyundai. Among commercial vehicle manufacturers, Mercedes-Benz sold the most units, followed by Toyota, Izuzu and Volvo.

Aggregate domestic sales in March 2021 were 44 217 units, an increase of 10 671 units (31.8%) compared to what was sold in March last year - at the start of the coronavirus lockdown. An estimated 37 572 units (85%) represented dealer sales; about 8.7% represented sales to the vehicle rental industry; 3.7% of sales were to government; and 2.6% to industry corporate fleets.

The March 2021 new passenger car market at 27 330 units had registered an increase of 5 187 cars (23.4%), compared to the 22 143 new cars sold in March 2020.

Domestic sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and mini-buses were 14 375 units during March 2021, a 52.4% increase compared to March last year. Sales for medium and heavy trucks, namely 705, showed an 11.6% increase in medium commercial vehicles and a 35.2% increase in heavy trucks and buses.


Export sales recorded in March 2021 - 40 026 units - was a gain of 11 137 units (38.6%), compared to the 28 889 vehicles exported in March 2020. For the first three months of 2021 vehicle exports were 13 019 units (16.8%) above the corresponding period last year.

Naamsa expects vehicle export numbers will be supported by the rebound in global economic growth prospects for 2021. However, in terms of a timeframe for a full recovery to pre-Covid-19 vehicle record export levels, much will depend on the ongoing path of the pandemic and how it is managed by the South African automotive industry's main trading partners, says naamsa.

The automotive industry contributes 6.4% to GDP in SA and accounts for 27.6% of the country's manufacturing output. The manufacturing segment of the industry presently employs more than 110 000 people.

According to Nedbank's Economic Unit, although the new vehicle market will continue to benefit from attractive offers by dealerships and low interest rates, generally tough economic conditions and subdued household income growth will keep the sales below 2019 levels.

"Weak domestic investment will undermine sales of commercial vehicles. The resurgence of Covid-19 infections and the associated tightening of lockdown measures will remain the key downside risk to the gradual pick in vehicle sales and economic momentum in general. The gradual recovery in global demand will help to boost exports," commented the unit.

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