Bakkies are the most important automotive barometer of South African economic activity and if you look at those numbers for last month, they don’t make for comforting analysis. The impervious Toyota Hilux saw sales contact from March into April by nearly half.
Hilux customer deliveries dropped by 43% in April, down to 2411 units from 4252 in March.
That is a distressingly massive contraction but it can be explained by the number of trading days and supply chain disruption losses due to numerous public holidays in April. Ford didn’t fare much better in April. It sold 1635 Rangers, down from 2376 bakkies the month before, totalling an even larger reduction of 45%.
With the new Ranger having launched late in April, Ford is sure to be building for an impressive sales performance this month and should run Toyota close by the time May’s numbers are totalled and reported. If the local bakkie market’s most dominant forces, Hilux and Ranger, suffered sales declines of nearly 50% last month, how did some of the other double-cab models fare? VW proved more resilient than most of its bakkie rivals to the April public holiday trading disruptions. Although Amarok deliveries dropped from 188 units in March, to 115 in April, the proportional contraction was only 38%.
Nissan showed even better resilience to the April trading malaise with its premium bakkie model. Navara sales were only down by 9%, from 177 bakkies in March , to 161 dealership deliveries in April. April was a tough trading month for bakkies but did any of the local double-cab models reverse the trend month-on-month and outperform? Well, for Mitsubishi it was one of the best months in recent memory for Triton, with sales up from 51 bakkies to 76. This sales surge of 49% is easily attributable to the new generation Triton having launched at the beginning of April.
For most brands with a bakkie on sale in the local market, April was certainly a month to forget as the overall market was 52% smaller than the month before. May has the added risk of stalling a full recovery, due to an additional public holiday for the general election, which should remove yet another trading and vehicle delivery opportunity for dealerships.