OPINION | July's civil unrests halted any gains new vehicle sales have made in 2021

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• 32 949 new vehicles were sold in South Africa in July 2021.

• The sales figure is 1.7% better than the same period last year.

• The national protests and social unrests influenced vehicle sales last month.

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The momentum being gathered by South Africa's new vehicle sales recovery was given a harsh blow in July as civil protests tore through large parts of the country. In addition, the majority of the sales month was spent in adjusted Level 4 lockdown, and the ongoing impact of stock shortages was exacerbated by disruptions in the logistics chain at ports.

July brought the fragility of the motor industry back into stark focus. Not only did the month bring physical impacts, but the resulting consequences in business and consumer confidence will continue to challenge the industry's recovery for months to come. Once again, the industry's resilience is being put to the test.

We remain optimistic, however, for the industry's continued recovery. Rejuvenating rental fleets, progress in the country's vaccination rollout programme, and revitalising the economy will contribute to building the South African motor industry. The industry needs to remain focused on delivery and the inevitable demand that will rise in the medium term.

Toyota Hilux
Toyota sold 2 836 Hilux models in July 2021

Year-on-year growth

Although July 2021 sales recorded 1.7% growth year-on-year to 32 949 units according to Naamsa, the Automotive Business Council, the month declined 13.6% compared to June sales. WesBank says the market experience was reflected in demand, with the bank's application rate comparatively slower.

The passenger car segment grew 9.1% year-on-year to 20 575 units but that was a far cry from the 24 497 units sold in June. The real effects of consumer confidence can be seen in the dealer channel sales, down 1.1% year-on-year and significantly worse off (-15.8%) than June.

Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) sales hurt even more, down 8.1% at 10 266 compared to 11 165 in July last year. Sales through the showroom floor also got dealt a 9.8% knock, and the picture was significantly worse than last month's sales.

While the country encountered yet another speed bump during July, there are many reasons to believe in the continued recovery of the marke. Low-interest rates, the return of adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations, and some improvement to civil stability will provide a good basis for the industry's determination to once again shine through."

Lebogang Gaoakets is the head of Marketing and Communication at WesBank.

Lebogang Gaoaketse
Lebogang Gaoaketse
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